Premature birth rates rise for second year in a row

Premature birth rates rise for second year in a row
© Photodisc/Thinkstock

The rate of preterm birth in the U.S. has increased for the second year in a row, according to a new report released Wednesday by the March of Dimes. 

The U.S. preterm birth rate increased from 9.6 percent of births in 2015 to 9.8 percent in 2016, according to the report. 

The increase in the past few years follows nearly a decade of decline. 

Black women are 49 percent more likely to deliver preterm compared to white woman, the report shows. 

Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 

Babies born preterm face a greater likelihood of death before their first birthday, the March of Dimes says, as well as a higher change of lifelong disabilities or chronic health conditions. 

Preterm birth rates worsened in 43 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico among all racial and ethnic groups, according to the report. 

More than 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year.