ST. LOUIS – March of Dimes, a national nonprofit that advocates for and educates on infant health, released its 2022 report card earlier this month. Missouri and Illinois both received “D” grades in that report over preterm birth rates.

According to the March of Dimes, Missouri received a “D-” score with an 11.3% preterm birth rate and an infant mortality rate of 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Illinois received a “D+” score with a 10.7% preterm birth rate and an infant mortality rate of 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Both individual report cards for Missouri and Illinois suggest the states should consider stronger policy measures regarding Medicaid expansion, midwifery, prenatal quality collaborative and maternal mortality review committees.

Nationally, March of Dimes reports that the U.S. preterm birth rate increased to 10.5% in 2021, a significant 4% increase in just one year and the highest recorded rate since 2007. The country’s overall grade was a “D+” over the crisis. Nine states received an “F” grade on their individual report cards.

Data from the report cards show some disparities across maternal and infant health measures that were also compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s report sheds new light on the devastating consequences of the pandemic for moms and babies in our country,” said Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO of March of Dimes via a news release on the report. “While fewer babies are dying, more of them are being born too sick and too soon, which can lead to lifelong health problems. … It’s clear that we’re at a critical moment in our country, and that’s why we’re urging policymakers to act now to advance legislation that will measurably improve the health of moms and babies.”

The report also revealed low-risk Cesarean births remain alarmingly high, and some mothers faced inadequate prenatal care based on preexisting maternal health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. For the nationwide March of Dimes report card, click here.