The March of Dimes released its 2010 Premature Birth Report Card, and Connecticut earned itself a C. No other state fared any higher than a C grade. But, eight states earned a better grade on the report card and 32 others and the District of Columbia saw their preterm birth rates improve. In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then. On the 2010 report card, 17 states earned a “C,” 20 received a “D,” and 13 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico failed.