RALEIGH, N.C. — The March of Dimes issued its first Premature Birth Report Card on Wednesday, grading all 50 states and Puerto Rico on how they stack up to the federal goal of 7.6 preterm births per 100.
In North Carolina, the March of Dimes found that 13.7 babies per 100 are born too soon, and the organization gave the state a failing grade.
The March of Dimes claims premature birth is the leading cause of death among infants and can cause disabilities throughout life.
North Carolina was among 18 states that failed, according to the report. No state earned an "A." Only Vermont earned a "B."
The March of Dimes intends the report card to raise awareness of the dangers of preterm birth and to encourage funding for further research and programs that can prevent preterm births.
The group plans to revisit the report card in 2009 to show steps states take to reduce early births.