Trends in Preterm Birth by Rural Status in the U.S.

Research center:
Project funded:
September 2019
Project completed:
April 2021

Rates of infant mortality and preterm birth in the U.S. are among the highest of any industrialized nation and significant disparities in rates exist by maternal characteristics. We hypothesized that women in rural counties, compared to woman living in more urban communities, have higher rates of preterm birth, higher risk profiles, and maternal characteristics that account for a significant portion of rural/urban disparities in preterm birth.

This project used national birth certificate date for 2012-2016 obtained through the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems. The goal of this work was to understand variations in risk for preterm birth across urban/rural communities, which can shape policy recommendations to improve maternal and child health outcomes.


  • Trends in Singleton Preterm Births by Rural Status in the U.S., 2012-2018
    Policy Brief
    Southwest Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 04/2021
    This brief examines singleton preterm birth rates by rurality and across census regions in the U.S. It also studies the relationship between singleton preterm birth and several maternal characteristics among women who lived in counties with various rurality levels from 2012-2018.