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United States preterm birth rate declared lowest in 15 years

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The March of Dimes Foundation announced that the United States had the lowest preterm birth rate in 2012 in the last 15 years in a press release on Nov. 1, 2013.

Only five states met the March of Dimes preterm birth rate goal of 9.6 percent. The average preterm birth rate in the United States was 11.5 percent. The country in total only rated a grade of 70 percent in efforts to prevent preterm births.

Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico had the highest levels of preterm births.

The United States still has the highest rate of preterm births of any industrialized nation even after 20 years of concerted effort to reduce the rate of preterm births.

Non-Hispanic black women had a rate of preterm birth of 16.5 percent in 2012. This is two percent lower than 2011 and 1.5 times the preterm birth rate seen in white women.

Preterm births cost more regardless of the form of insurance a person has or does not have. The complications of preterm birth, including life long disabilities, add to the estimated $9 billion in health and societal costs resulting from preterm births.

The researchers that put together the report claim that drops in rates of pregnant women smoking and increased insurance coverage for uninsured women were major factors in reducing preterm births in the United States in 2012.

State data is available here.