Each year, the March of Dimes compares each state's pre-term birth rate with the goal birth rate. The report says 40,000 fewer babies were born prematurely in the U.S. between 2006 and 2009.
"We set a goal of 9.6 % by 2020, and it's a realistic goal we can get to and it would be a tremendous accomplishment," says Douglas A. Staples, senior vice president of strategic marketing and communications for the March of Dimes. This year the state of Vermont was the only state to achieve that goal. The current nationwide rate is 12.2 percent.
A baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature and at serious health risk. Being born earlier than 37 weeks is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States, costing more than $26 billion each year, according to the report. While the U.S. ranks first in health care spending, it is 39th in infant mortality, according to a 2006 report.
(image via: http://www.healthjockey.com/)