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Arkansas gets 'D' grade in premature-births report

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published November 13, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.

Arkansas has received a "D" grade in a report detailing premature births which said that 13.1 percent of all state births occurred before 37 weeks of gestation.

The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card's grades compared each state’s and the nation’s 2011 preliminary preterm birth rates against the organization's goal of preterm births composing only 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020, the nonprofit organization said.

A "D" grade means the preterm birth rate is greater than or equal to 12.9 percent but less than 14.6 percent of all births.

Arkansas' preterm birth rate of has dropped since 2006, when it was 13.7 percent, the March of Dimes said in statement.

Additionally, the state's rate of women smokers is 29.7 percent and the rate of uninsured women is 28.2 percent; reducing those numbers will contribute to improved infant health, the organization said.

According to the organization's report card for Arkansas, the state has pledged to reduce the preterm birth rate by 8 percent by 2014.

The United States received an overall "C" grade for 2012. The nationwide preterm birth rate is 11.7 percent, a decline of more than 8 percent from the 12.8 percent peak in 2006.

Only four states received "A" grades: Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont; 21 received "B"s; 14 got "C" grades; 7 earned "D"s; while Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico received "F"s.

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