Minnesota earned a B grade on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, released Tuesday. One in 10 babies are born premature in Minnesota.
To raise the state's grade, March of Dimes is working with the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Hospital Association to raise awareness that every week of pregnancy is crucial to a newborn's health.
The Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait campaign includes health information for patients, public service announcements, a soon-to-be-released iPhone app and educational DVD.
Babies born after 37 weeks of pregnancy are considered full term, but research has shown a baby's brain nearly doubles in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Women should "at least proceed with caution before electing to have an earlier term birth," said Dr. Kimberly Noble, an assistant pediatrics professor at Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of a study of New York public school children.
While the overall risk of death is small, it is double for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy, when compared to babies born at 40 weeks.
The premature birth rate in Minnesota dropped to 9.9 percent in 2011. That is down from a high of 10.7 in 2005. Nationally, the premature birth rate fell to 11.7 percent, giving the United States a collective C grade on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.