Preterm birth rates rising, researchers find

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- The rate of preterm births in the United States has risen for a third year in a row, according to the March of Dimes.

The organization released its eleventh annual Premature Birth Report Card Thursday.

“We assign grades to the country and to different states for their rates of premature birth,” explained March of Dimes President Stacey Stewart. “The United States as a whole has received a “C” and the State of Illinois has received a “D,” down from a “C” last year. The current rate of premature birth in Illinois is 10.4 percent.”   

Researchers are still trying to uncover the reasons for the trend, but risky behaviors like substance abuse could contribute, Stewart said.

“What we do see is there are greater risks of prematurity based on other kinds of factors: women that have a lack of access to health insurance, if they don’t have access to prenatal care, their rates of premature birth can often be increased,” Stewart said.

Researchers also found that women of color face higher rates of preterm births.

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