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California Ahead Of National Average In Premature Births

— California is doing better than the national average when it comes to babies born prematurely.

A smaller percentage of babies is born prematurely in California than in the nation overall, according to the March of Dimes’ annual report card. California got a grade of “C” compared to the national grade of “D.”

According to the March of Dimes, 10.5 percent of California babies were born prematurely in 2008 – down slightly from the year before. The national rate was more than 12 percent.

Barbara Murphy is with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. She said there are also concerns about women who schedule C-sections or induce labor before 39 weeks for non-medical reasons. Those babies aren’t included in the pre-term birth rates, but Murphy said they are at risk.

“They have a greater chance of being admitted to the NICU, a greater chance of having sepsis themselves, a greater chance of having respiratory problems and it could have been completely avoided,” she said.

The March of Dimes is teaming up with the California Department of Health on a campaign to encourage women to wait as long as possible to give birth.

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