All told, an additional 8,000 babies in America were born early in 2016 when compared to 2015. At 10.6 percent, the state received a D grade on the annual report.
According to the March of Dimes, the rate across the commonwealth rose to 9.6 percent previous year.
The organization is recommending health care planners concentrate on expanding group prenatal care sites, educating women to wait at least 18 months between babies, teaching women the dangers of smoking, and increasing access to medications which help prevent preterm deliveries.
Babies born preterm face a greater likelihood of death before their first birth, the March of Dimes says, or lifelong disabilities or chronic health conditions.
The 2017 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card is based on the latest data from the National Center for Health Sciences.
11 states and the District of Columbia received a "D" grade for preterm birthrates between 10.4 and 11.4 percent.
Here's what you should know about premature births in North Carolina.
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MS has the highest rate nationwide at 13.6 percent.
The nation received a "C" grade after preterm birth rates increased for the second year in a row.
Infant mortality for whites declined 12.3 percent from 2015 to 2016, while infant deaths increased 7.2 percent for African-Americans.
Black women are almost 50% more likely to deliver early than white women.
In North Carolina, black women had a preterm rate of 13.5 percent, 53 percent higher than all other women in the state, the report stated. Hispanic women accounted for 9.1 percent of preterm births and Asian/Pacific Islander women accounted for 10.3 percent of preterm births in Louisiana.
Nationwide, the rate of premature births increased to 9.8 percent past year, from 9.6 percent in 2015.
The March of Dimes said it would continue to work with Virginia on lowering the preterm rate and would emphasize research, education, advocacy and improving clinical practice.