Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Too many preemies

We are fortunate in the Heart of Illinois to have an outstanding Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to care for the tiniest babies. I had a couple scares with two of kids when they were just 28 weeks gestation. Fortunately they were born full-term. I know a lot of families who spent months in the NICU before their babies were healthy enough to go home.

FROM NBC: Too many babies... born too soon. A new report out today from the March of Dimes finds that after 30 years on the rise, America's prematurity rate is improving -- but still way too high.

Jordan Williamowsky arrived in September, more than two months early, weighing not quite three pounds. Jackie Williamowsky/Mother "Now you can see she has a lot of fat on her cheeks, and her hands are bigger." Adam Williamowsky/ father "She's growing, she's eating, and she's doing really well."
One in every eight American babies is born early. That's half a million -a year -- more than most other developed countries.

The March of Dimes gives the USA "D" -- mainly because of so many "elective" c-sections before 39 weeks.
Dr. Jennifer Howse/ President/ March of Dimes: "Pregnancy is not 9 times 4 -- 9 months times 4 weeks -- 36. pregnancy is full-term at 39 weeks of completed gestation. And that's so important for timing of an elective c-section." When babies are born even just a few weeks early, lungs and brains aren't fully developed. there's a higher risk of breathing problems, feeding problems and developmental issues later in life.

The government says one of the biggest problems is women smoking: Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S.Surgeon General 1:03 - "One of things immediately that it does is decrease the oxygen in your blood stream and therefore the baby has less oxygen." But in recent years, doctors have seen huge progress in young preemies like Jordan:
Dr. Billie Short/ Chief of Neonatology/ Children's National Medical Center"They had a very, about a 50%, 60% survival rate and about a 50% complication rate as they went out developmental problems. and now that baby has a 90% to 95% survival rate."

Reporter:"This story is near and dear to my heart because nine years ago I was in a neonatal unit very much like this one. My daughter was born 11 weeks early. She was barely two-and-a-half pounds."
That was then... this is now. Like mine, the March of Dimes says most preemies do well. Even the very youngest -- now have survival rates around 80 percent. The report also takes into account how many pregnant women have health insurance, in determining that grade. To see how your state's doing, log onto for a look at a state-by-state breakdown of today's prematurity report.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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