- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma’s premature birth rate dipped again last year, earning it a better grade from an nonprofit organization that specializes in pregnancy and baby health.

The state’s premature birth rate was 12.8 percent in 2013 - down from 13 percent in 2012. The drop was enough for Oklahoma to earn a “C” on the March of Dimes 2014 Premature Birth report card.

Nationally, the preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent last year - the lowest it’s been in 17 years. But despite the progress, the nation still received a “C” on the annual report card and still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country.

Health officials say premature birth is a serious health problem that costs the U.S. more than $26 billion annually.

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