(NBC News) – Too many babies are being born too soon according to this year’s March of Dimes Report Card.
The latest report reveals an increase in preterm births in the United States for the fourth year in a row.
It gives the U.S. an overall grade of “C.” Only one state, Oregon, earned an “A,” while Puerto Rico and several southern states received failing marks.
“We have more women, or having more challenges, even preconception, in terms of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other factors that leads them at the time of conception to have a pregnancy which may not be very healthy,” says March of Dimes chief medical officer Dr. Rahul Gupta.
The report also finds alarming geographic and racial disparities. African-American women, for example, are 50 percent more likely to deliver preterm.
“These challenges are not equal to all racial and ethnic groups and that should be a concern to the nation,” Dr. Gupta says.
The March of Dimes is preparing to present the report to Congress, along with suggested solutions including comprehensive health insurance that starts before and continues after birth,
expanded care in rural areas and the expansion of Medicaid.
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