The preterm birth rate in the United States has dropped for the fifth year in a row, reaching 11.7 percent in 2011.
That number is the lowest the country's seen in ten years. In all, the nation received a "C" grade on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. The March of Dimes has a goal of dropping the preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent.
The national rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8 after over two decades of steady increases. Last year's rate of 11.7 percent means savings of roughly $3 billion in health care and economic costs to society.
Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, March of Dimes President, believes the improved rates are a result of the expansion of successful programs and interventions as well as the decisions made by 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to lower their preterm birth rates to eight percent by 2014.
Report Card information for the country and individual states can be found here.
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