THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. preterm birth rate increased to 10.5 percent in 2021, reaching a 15-year high, according to the 2022 Report Card released by the March of Dimes.

Each year, the March of Dimes releases its report card with grades for individual states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the 100 U.S. cities with the greatest number of births.

The number of preterm births increased to 383,082 overall in 2021. Black and Native American women were 62 percent more likely to have a preterm birth and their babies were twice as likely to die compared with White women. Asian women saw a 3 percent decline in births, but had the largest increase (8 percent in preterm births versus all other races). Low-risk cesarean births remained high, with the highest rates reported among Black mothers (31.2 percent). Overall, the country earned a D+ grade. Vermont earned the highest grade (A−), while Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia all earned Fs.

“This year’s report sheds new light on the devastating consequences of the pandemic for moms and babies in our country,” Stacey D. Stewart, the president and CEO of the March of Dimes, said in a statement. “While fewer babies are dying, more of them are being born too sick and too soon which can lead to lifelong health problems.”

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