Preterm Births Serious And Costly Issue

Babies being born too soon. It's a serious problem that puts a baby's life at risk.

But a new report from the March of Dimes says we are making progress.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United

Today's report says the number of preterm births has dropped in the past few years.

Ashley Carey considers herself one of the lucky ones.

Her son Paxton is growing up.

"He's almost two," Ashley said.

But it was a tough road for the young family early on.

Paxton was born about a month premature.

Ashley had back problems and the pregnancy wore on her physically.

"I'd had a C Section planned and I wanted to go early because I was so sore and tired of carrying him and they're like 'no it is very important that you go to term,'" she said. "I didn't think there was going to be a problem and there was.His lungs weren't fully developed yet."

Her new baby spent nearly three weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

The boy has problems still today.

"All last year when he was sick it does go into his lungs," Ashley said.

Still, Ashley considers herself lucky now that she knows the dangers associated with delivering a baby prematurely.

Dr. Robert Bonebrake of Methodist Hospital's Perinatal Center said most of us miss the risks connected with premature birth.

"During the 37th through the 39th week that two week time frame the risk is probably two fold increase in neo-natal mortality in that first year of life as opposed to waiting the full 39 weeks," he said.

Ashley held back tears from a recent brush with 'what if?'

"I had somebody come in that had a premature birth just last week and ended up losing their baby," she said.

She knows and understands that even in our modern, developed world, mothers still lose babies far too often.

"Just stick it out and carry them as long as you can and just pray that everything is going to go right the day that day it decides to make its presence in the world," Ashley said.

There are a number of factors that contribute to premature birth rates that can actually be controlled including smoking.

Dr. Bonebrake says there are countless reason why women sometimes elect to have their babies early.

He says if those conditions are tempered, we could further reduce prematurity and further reduce health care costs.

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