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Report: Preterm births on the rise

November 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A new report finds that preterm births are on the rise across the nation.A loud cry and a healthy birth is what every new parent hopes for. But for 540,000 babies born in the U.S. that's not the case.

"Nothing really prepares you for the experience of a premature birth," said parent, Maria Andrade.

Maria Andrade and her husband spent 168 days in the neonatal intensive care unit after she unexpectedly gave birth about 15 weeks early.

"When I delivered my son he weighed at 1 lb. 8 oz.," said Andrade.

A new March of Dimes report card say one in eight U.S. babies are born premature. Experts say the rate has gone up 20 percent since 1990.

"There are many contributing factors. It affects babies of all races, ethnicities and families from all walks of life," said Dr. Diana Ramos, March of Dimes.

According to the March of Dimes, lack of health insurance, poor prenatal care and smoking while pregnant all contribute to these numbers. Another cause: the rise in the cesarian sections performed early.

L.A. County's health director says the report points out where resources need to be focused.

"It is more attention to preconception health. It's having better care during the period of caring the fetus. And it is making sure that you have delivery at the time that makes sense from nature's point of view -- not just for convenience," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, L.A. County Department of Public Health.

In California, 11 percent of babies born are premature. The national goal is to drop the rate down to under 8 percent.

Maria's first child is doing fine and she has another on the way.

"Today I am expecting my second child and I know that I am twice at risk for having a premature baby. With the education and research provides that the March of Dimes provides we now know more," said Andrade.

The state with the least premature babies is Vermont at 9 percent. And Mississippi had the highest with a whopping 18.8 percent.

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