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Science Briefing

Premature births decline to 12.7%

March 21, 2009|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rates of premature birth and low birth-weight babies showed the first decline since the early 1980s, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The pre-term birth rate, defined as infants delivered at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, fell to 12.7% of all births. The rates of low birth-weight babies declined slightly to 8.2%. Births to teenagers increased for the second straight year, now accounting for 42.5 of every 1,000 U.S. births, and births to unmarried women rose to nearly 40% of all births. The rate of C-section delivery climbed for the 11th straight year to 31.8% of all births.

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