Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

California has reduced its premature birth rate. The rate has dropped to 9.6 percent, earning the state an A on the March of Dimes annual report card for the first time.

"But unfortunately in the Central Valley, we’re still at a grade of C, although we’re trending downward on pre-term birth rates, as the state is," Gail Newel, director of the Fresno County Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, said at a press conference this morning.

The recession isn't just hurting families financially. It's also creating more stress for parents who already feel overwhelmed by the demands of raising children. Child safety advocates are concerned about the link between the economy and rising reports of abusive head injuries in infants. That condition is better known as shaken baby syndrome. FM89's Shellie Branco has this report.

Special funding for this program comes from the California HealthCare Foundation