The maternal and infant health nonprofit, the March of Dimes, said Knox County's preterm birth rate has improved more than 20 percent since 2007.
The preterm birth rate in county fell from 12.5 percent in 2007, to 9.8 percent in 2016.
The March of Dimes says a core problem facing health leaders in Knox County is that many public decision makers are not aware of problems related to premature birth and neonatal care.
“There was no urgency related to this issue,” said Dr. Mark Gaylord, Director of Neonatology at the University of Tennessee Medical
Center in a news release from the March of Dimes.
Poverty, substance abuse, high tabacoo use, and mental health challenges all contribute to preterm birth rates.
Tennessee as a state, however, received a "D" grade from the March of Dimes even though the preterm birth rate dropped slightly in 2017, from 11.3 to 11.1 percent.
The organization said in a news release premature births continue to be a problem nationwide, with news that more U.S. babies were born too soon with serious risks to their health for a third year in a row.