JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A new report says more Mississippi mothers are giving birth before their pregnancy reaches full term.
The March of Dimes study says 13.6 percent of children statewide were born before the 37th week of pregnancy in 2016. The report released Wednesday says that's up from 13 percent in 2015.
Mississippi is one of five states assigned a failing grade by the March of Dimes, yet pre-term births also rose nationwide for the second straight year.
The change matters because early births increase chances of death, disability or lifelong health problems.
Among African-Americans, 16 percent of Mississippi children are born early, compared to 11 percent among whites. That disparity was unchanged last year.
Early births worsened in Harrison and Hinds counties, while improving in DeSoto, Jackson, Madison and Rankin counties.
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