The March of Dimes has released its latest Report Card on maternal and infant health. North Carolina continues to score poorly in several areas. 

North Carolina received a D for a preterm birth rate of just under 11 percent, showing no improvement since last year. Guilford and Forsyth counties fared worse, earning an F grade.

The report card also highlights racial disparities in care that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The preterm birth rate for the state’s Black women was over 50 percent higher than the rate among all other women. 

And the state’s overall infant mortality rate was higher than the national average.

Michaela Penix is the March of Dimes North Carolina director of maternal and infant health care. She says the state needs to do a better job supporting the social drivers of health, making sure people have access to medical attention before, during, and after pregnancy.

And she urges all residents to become advocates for better health care.

"Talk to your local legislators, talk to your state representatives. We need to see a number of bills passed both here in North Carolina and federally," says Penix.

Penix says her organization is actively lobbying for Medicaid expansion in the state. And she says more funding is needed to further research the causes of preterm birth. 

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