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US Preterm Birth Rate Reaches Decade Low

The percentage of babies born early in the United States in 2011 was the lowest in a decade, according to a new report from the non-profit March of Dimes.

In 2011 the preterm birth rate in the U.S. was 11.7 percent, down from a peak of 12.8 percent in 2006. Last year marked the fifth year in a row the preterm birth rate has dropped.  A baby is considered preterm when he or she is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The largest declines were among babies born during the 34th to 36th weeks of pregnancy — so-called "late preterm" birth. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico lowered their rates of late preterm births.

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