US Map of Preterm Birth Rates, 2006 (image) March of Dimes Foundation Caption Nearly 543,000 babies were born too soon in 2006, according to new government statistics release Wednesday. The nation's preterm birth rate (birth before 37 completed weeks gestation) rose to 12.8 percent in 2006 -- that's a 36 percent increase since the early 1980s. Credit March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center Usage Restrictions Please credit the March of Dimes Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.