(ABC News) - A healthy, happy baby is the hope of every parent-to-be. But for years now, the chances of having a premature baby have been higher in the U.S. than in any other industrialized country.
Now a new report card from the March of Dimes is taking a look at how we are doing.
The good news is the rate of premature births in the U.S. is at its lowest level in 15 years.
However, more than one in nine babies is still born too soon. And the U.S. still lags behind other countries.
The stakes are high. Premature birth is a leading cause of newborn death.
It is also linked to developmental delays, vision problems, and cerebral palsy.
So what can expectant parents do to increase their odds of having a healthy full-term baby? If you are pregnant, take prenatal vitamins as recommended, avoid alcohol and tobacco. Most importantly, see your doctor regularly for prenatal care.