News & Commentary

Preterm births in the U.S. rise for first time in 8 years


The United States is going in the wrong direction when it comes to preterm birth rates. Preterm births in the United States rose from 9.57% in 2014 to 9.63% in 2015. That’s the first increase in eight years, prompting the March of Dimes to give the United States a C grade (on a scale of A to F) in its Premature Birth Report Card. The organization uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics. It assigns a grade by comparing a state’s premature birth rate to the national average in 2014 and to the organization’s goal of 8.1%. Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Washington State had the highest marks for having preterm birth rates of 8.1% or lower. Seven states had higher preterm birth rates than in 2014: Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Preterm birth rates and grades by state

Source: March of Dimes, “2016 Premature Birth Report Card,” November 2016