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US Preterm Birth Rate Drops To 15-Year Low

Update Date: Nov 02, 2013 04:56 PM EDT

Preterm birth rate in US has dropped to a 15-year low and the country earned a “C” on the report card.

Few states which include New Hampshire, Alaska, California, Oregon, Maine and Vermont earned an “A” on the March of Dimes 2013 premature birth report card. These six states preterm birth rates met the March of Dimes 9.6 percent of goal.

“Although we have made great progress in reducing our nation’s preterm birth rate from historic highs, the US still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country. We must continue to invest in preterm birth prevention because every baby deserves a healthy start in life,” said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse in a press release.

“A premature birth costs businesses about 12 times as much as uncomplicated healthy birth. As a result, premature birth is a major driver of health insurance costs not only for employers. ”

According to National Center for Health, the national preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at more than 12 percent. For almost two decades the rise has been steady.

Preterm birth is a condition before 37 weeks of pregnancy which is a serious health crisis. It costs US more than $26 billion annually. Preterm birth is a leading cause of newborn death too.

Last year the 2012 preterm birth rate among non-Hispanic black infants is the highest of all racial groups. The gap between blacks and whites has been slowly decreasing. On the contrary, the preterm birth rate among non-Hispanic blacks is still more than 1.5 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites.

California managed a commendable job in achieving the March of Dimes goal. The state is home of half a million births each year.

The Report Card information for the U.S. and states are available online at:

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