Alabama earns F on preterm-birth rankings

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama earned an F on a March of Dimes report card ranking states on the number of babies born prematurely.

The nonprofit group said Alabama had a preterm-birth rate of 16.7 percent in 2005, the most recent data available.

That's compared to 12.7 percent nationally, also a D grade.

No state earned an A on the report card released Wednesday.

To earn that grade, the March of Dimes said a state would have to have a 7.6 percent premature-birth rate or lower.

Maternal smoking and lack of health insurance were cited as the two largest contributors to preterm births.

The March of Dimes works to prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-11-12-08 0827EST