Leah Shannon shouldn’t even be here yet. Her due date is Nov. 8, but she’s a veteran of the neonatal intensive care unit — a resident for 100-plus days. Leah’s one of the hundreds of thousands of American babies who come too soon. Born at 37 weeks gestation or earlier, they struggle against a range of health problems from heart defects to brain damage — problems that follow many of them throughout their lives. “She was born at 24 weeks and she was born a pound and 6 ounces,” said Leah’s mother, Terretha Shannon of Cleveland. “And today she's 5 pounds and 12 ounces.” A new report from the March of Dimes finds the number of premature births is going up in the U.S. for the second year in a row after holding steady for the past three years. The report finds that 9.8 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born prematurely -- 380,000 a year. That’s down from 10.4 percent in 2007, but it’s ticked back up from 9.6 percent in 2015. “We are very alarmed by this,” said Stacey Stewart, president of the March of Dimes. “Our concern is that we could be heading in the wrong direction with respect to women's health and moms' health and babies' health.” “They may face cognitive difficulties and delays, other developmental delays.” The March of Dimes — a charity founded to help prevent birth defects and premature births, surveyed rates of early births in all the states and U.S. territories. They graded states and cities based on preterm birth rates. Overall, the U.S. gets a "C". Cities like Baton Rouge and Birmingham get "F"s, with preterm birth rates of 12 percent or more. The states with the highest rates of preterm births include Mississippi, with 13.6 percent of babies born too soon; Louisiana with 12.6 percent and Alabama at 12 percent. Oregon and New Hampshire have the lowest rates but even Oregon sees 8 percent of babies born too soon, and New Hampshire 7.8 percent. Portland, Oregon gets an "A" with a rate of 7 percent Race is clearly a factor: 8.9 percent of white babies are born prematurely, but 13.3 percent of African-American babies and 10.5 percent of American Indian babies are. Terretha Shannon holds her baby, Leah, born at 24 weeks. Courtesy of Terretha Shannon /