AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The March of Dimes 2018 premature birth report card has given the state of Texas a "D" grade for its premature birth rate of 10.6 percent.
According to March of Dimes, premature birth is a complex problem with no single solution.
About 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the United States.
Compared to the state’s average, Potter County has a higher rate of 12.8 percent and Randall County sits at 12.1 percent.
“It has gone up in the last three years,” said Maternal and Child Health Director for March of Dimes West Texas Amy Johnson-Rubio. “We’ve had an increase each year after we have had seven years of decline. We’re very concerned that that started to creep up again and we’re working to do everything we can to get it headed back in the right direction.”
Many factors can contribute to premature birth, but Potter and Randall Counties show a high risk of one factor in particular.
“One risk factor is smoking during pregnancy, and that is higher in Potter and Randall Counties than some other areas in the Panhandle,” said Rubio. “Fortunately in the Amarillo area, we don’t see a really high rate of drug use related to preterm birth, but certainly that is an issue in other areas of the state.”
Deaf Smith county also has a higher premature birth rate at around 12 percent.
The national average is 9.9 percent, and the only two Texas Panhandle counties that sit below that rate are Gray and Moore.