DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- A growing number of rural hospitals across Minnesota have stopped delivering babies, citing costs, limited doctors and demands to consolidate birthing centers.

Reports say the number of Minnesota hospitals offering birth services fell by almost 18 percent between 2000 and 2015. But rural areas were the most affected, with 15 hospitals stopping delivery services, a nearly 38 percent drop during that period.

It's a trend seen in rural areas across the country, including in neighboring Wisconsin.

The declining number of rural hospitals with operating birthing centers creates risks for pregnant women who have to travel hours to access labor and delivery services.

A recent University of Minnesota study identified a large jump in anxiety when hospitals in Grand Marais and Ely stopped delivering babies.