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Connecticut Gets a "C" Grade for Premature Births
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A new report card on premature birth has given the U.S. a "D" rating. As WNPR's Marie Kuhn reports, Connecticut fared slightly better than the National Average.

According to March of Dimes, not a single state earned an "A" in preventing premature births. The only state to earn a "B" was Vermont. And most southern states received an F.

"The state of Connecticut received a "C" grade. We're ranked third in the United States when it comes to our pre-term birthrate which is 10.4 percent. About one in 10 babies in Connecticut is born pre-maturely. "

Leigh-Ann LeFurge is the spokeswoman for the Connecticut March of Dimes. Even though the state is doing better than average, she says there is still a lot of work to do in preventing prematurity.

"Access to healthcare is a huge issue in terms of being able to identify and managing conditions that may contribute to premature birth. Women smoking is a factor that we can look at - about one in six women in childbearing age in Connecticut is a smoker. And also late pre-term births; looking at babies who are born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation, 40 weeks being considered a full-term pregnancy."

Nation-wide, more than a one-half million babies are born prematurely each year. Babies who survive a premature birth risk serious lifelong health problems, including a greater risk of respiratory distress syndrome, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities.