Last week action news reported that South Dakota got a D from the March of Dimes on their Premature Birth Rate Report Card. Most states got a D or F. South Dakota's preterm birth rate is 11.5%. That's 50% higher than the Healthy People 2010 Objective of 7.6%. 1 in 9 babies born in this state are born premature and that could lead to a lifetime of health problems.
Lael is new mom to twin boys. At birth JohnOwen weighed 3 lbs 6 oz. Older brother (by 1 minute) Simeon weighed one ounce more at birth. Both boys came 7 weeks early at 33 weeks.
Lael says, "It's definitely not what you prepare for when you think about having a baby and taking him home. Having to stay in the hospital and having other people care for them is difficult, but we are very thankful for the care they are getting. "
Lael says, "Before they can be released, they have to maintain their own body heat. They also have to be gaining weight. They have to learn to suck and swallow and breath. Those patterns aren't developed yet so if they tried to eat on their own would gag on it. Right now they are getting my breast milk through a tub that goes straight to their stomach."
Vicky Leland is the Regional Director of the NICU Family Support Program for the March of Dimes. She says, "the reason we put out a report card for every state in the nation is because we need to bring awareness to a crisis we're facing in America. More and more babies are born prematurely and we don't know why. We need to put more money into research. First we have to bring awareness to the problem and then we have to solve it. No one got an A and only one state got a B (Vermont)."
220 babies are born in this state a week. 25 of them will be born preterm, meaning before the 37th week is completed and most of those babies will end up in the NICU.
Leland says, "It's not because women aren't taking care of themselves and not following the doctors orders or abusing drugs and alcohol. That's not the case. It's people doing everything right and following every order by the doctor and we are still having premature babies."
25% of all the babies born prematurely will go on to have long term health issues. They could have cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, chronic lung problems, blindness. For mom Lael, she thanks God her babies are getting stronger everyday and prays fewer parents will have to go through this in the future.
The March of Dimes says there are a couple of things women can do to help in the prevention of premature births. One is to not smoke in their childbearing years. Secondly, don't have elective c-sections before the baby is full term which is 40 weeks.