A new report out Tuesday from the March of Dimes shows premature birth rate has risen for the first time in eight years. The increase last year from the previous year was slight: from 9.57 percent to 9.63 percent. Still, that represents about 2,000 more babies born too soon, before 37 weeks and before their lungs and brains are fully developed.
The rise earned the US a “C” grade in this year’s March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. About 20 states also received a “C”, including Missouri and Illinois. The March of Dimes reported the premature birth rate in Missouri at 10 percent, and Illinois at 10.2 percent. Four States earned an “A”: New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Three states received an “F”: Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
On the local level, the City of St. Louis scored an “F” with a preterm birth rate of 12.5 percent. St. Louis County scored a “D” and St. Charles County earned a “C.”
The March of Dimes said the report card demonstrates that there is an unfair burden of premature birth among specific racial and ethnic groups.
“Across the country, preterm birth rates were nearly 48 percent higher among black women and more than 15 percent higher among American Indian/Alaska Native women compared to white women,” the March of Dimes said in a press release.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month.