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March of Dimes Foundation gives U.S. a ‘C’ on its Premature Birth Report Card

Update Date: Nov 05, 2015 04:15 PM EST

The United States did not do so well on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.

The foundation gave the U.S. a "C" because the nation's overall premature rate is nearly 10 percent, which is very high when compared to other wealthy countries. The report also graded cities within the U.S. The most recent data that was available from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics for this study dated back to 2013.

Only four cities out of 100 received an "A." They were Portland, Oregon, Oxnard, California, St. Paul, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington. Portland had the lowest preterm birth rate at around seven percent. The city that had the highest preterm birth rate was Shreveport, Louisiana, at nearly 20 percent. The city received an "F."

In terms of states, four - Idaho, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - of them received an "A" and three - Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi - failed with an "F." 10 states earned a "B" while 18 states were given a "C." Puerto Rico received an "F" as well.

"As our new list of city preterm birth rates highlights, many areas of the country, and tens of thousands of families, are not sharing in this success. No baby should have to battle the health consequences of an early birth. All babies, everywhere, deserve a healthy start in life," Dr. Jennifer Howse, the president of the March of Dimes, said in the news release.

The success Dr. Howse was referring to was the U.S.'s 2014 preterm rate, which met the foundation's 2020 goal. By meeting the goal early, the nation was able to prevent preterm births, which led to millions saved in health care costs.

The March of Dimes' new goal is to lower the country's preterm birth rate to around eight percent by 2020. By 2030, the foundation hopes that the rate can be lowered to 5.5 percent. Howse believes that although the goal is aggressive, it can definitely be achieved via improving care during pregnancy and increasing access to treatments.

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