A drop in early birth rates means fewer babies will survive the first three months of life

The number of babies born early and at birth term in 2020 will drop by about 1 percent, compared with today, the March of Dimes reports.

The report, which was issued Tuesday, offers an early glimpse into the number of babies born between 40 and 42 weeks in 2020.

Since 2000, the premature birth rate has dropped about 34 percent, largely because of women’s better access to prenatal care and better care at home and in the hospital. This has made it easier for doctors to detect early-stage pregnancies.

Now, about one in 10 babies born in the United States are born early and by birth term. That is similar to the rate in 1980, when about one in 25 babies were born early and by birth term.

Among women who conceived in 2016, the premature birth rate among black women was 3.3 percent. For white women, it was 2.6 percent.

The rate for births at birth term also dropped between 2000 and 2016, from about 26 percent to about 22 percent, according to the report.

The report warns that women in the United States who were 15 or older and living in the South and West had more premature births and died at younger ages.

Among women from those regions who were at least 21 years old, 22 percent of births were at birth term, compared with about 19 percent in the Northeast and 23 percent in the Midwest. Among black women, however, the rate was higher, at 26 percent, than it was for whites or women in the East and Midwest at ages 21 and older.

Middle-aged women in the Northeast had the highest rate of premature births, at about 27 percent. Among women from the West, 27 percent of births were at birth term. But among women living in the South, just over a quarter of births were at birth term.

The report is based on data from the National Vital Statistics System and the Internal Revenue Service.

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