NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - More babies were born preterm in half of all U.S states in 2016 compared to 2014, according to a data brief released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About one in ten babies in the U.S. is born prematurely, which can cause developmental problems impacting feeding, breathing, vision, and hearing, not to mention the emotional strain on families, according to the CDC.
North Carolina is one state where pre-term births, defined as a delivery earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy, showed a statistically notable increase.
The rate of pre-term births – defined as babies born earlier than 37 weeks along in pregnancy per 100 total births – rose from 9.57 percent to 9.85 percent, the study found.
This trend is a troubling reversal in progress made over the last decade. From 2007 to 2014, the number of babies born prematurely was decreasing in the U.S.
Of the increase in preterm births, more babies were born in the "late preterm" period of 34-36 weeks rather than earlier in pregnancy.
The data brief did not investigate the cause of why more babies are being born pre-term.
Researchers used data from the Natality Data File from the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks birth certificate information from across the country.