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California’s Premature Birth Rate Continues To Fall

— California's rate of premature births declined slightly in 2011. A new report from the March of Dimes shows California's rate has fallen five years in a row.

Aired 2/5/13 on KPBS News.

California has one of the nation's lowest premature birth rates, according to a new report from the March of Dimes.

Wikimedia Commons

A premature infant.

The report shows overall, 9.8 percent of babies in California were born premature in 2011. Only four states have a lower premature birth rate: Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

In California, some populations had a much higher rate. For example, the premature birth rate among uninsured women was 25 percent.

Dr. Nancy Wight, a neonatologist at San Diego's Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women, said there are steps women can take to reduce their risk.

"Well, certainly getting good prenatal care to make sure your blood pressure is inline and that your baby is growing appropriately," Wight explained. "Taking care of yourself in terms of not too heavy, not too light, just gaining the right amount of weight."

Even so, Wight said doctors still don't really know what causes premature birth.

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