ST. LOUIS — The nation's preeminent nonprofit working for the health of mothers and babies released their grades for premature birth in the United States, and the news is not good for Missouri or Illinois.
Both Missouri and Illinois received 'D+' grades from the March of Dimes based on multiple factors including the preterm birth rate, disparities between race and ethnicity and the cost of preterm birth.
"Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in this country and globally," the release from March of Dimes said.
The preterm birth in both Missouri and Illinois remained at 10.7%, the exact same rates as 2018.
In Missouri, the percentage rose each of the last 5 years before leveling off in 2019, but is still more than 2% above March of Dimes 8.1% goal by 2020. The preterm rate in St. Louis County improved in 2019, but was still at 11.2%. St. Louis City had the highest rate of preterm birth in the state at 13.7%, a higher number than in 2018.
Illinois's rate has risen at a slower rate than Missouri over the past five years but is in the same spot as Missouri. The "Disparity Ratio" improved in Illinois when compared to 2018.
5 On Your Side has reported on maternity rates last year as part of our Mothers Matter coverage.