March of Dimes helping to reduce number of premature births in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- All babies need a healthy start in life; that is the mantra of the March of Dimes. When the organization released its annual report card this week, the nation as a whole received a "D."

Utah, however, got a "C" and is one of only seven states making improvements. Premature births here dropped from 11.4 to 10.9 percent.

One in eight babies born in our country is premature. The rate of premature birth in America is higher than that of most other developed nations.

"The majority of the money that March of Dimes raises goes to research to try and determine what risk factors are involved that cause preterm births," said Jeff Bird, state director of March of Dimes Utah Chapter.

The March of Dimes has three criteria which can cause preterm births. Utahns have reduced the percentage of childbearing age women who smoke, reduced the number of uninsured women who don't get prenatal care, and lowered the late preterm birth rate by eliminating many early C-sections.

Last July, Patty Johnson gave birth to twins 15 weeks early. A few hours later, the baby girl died. The boy, Ryan--who weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces--remains in Newborn ICU.

Johnson told KSL News a member of the March of Dimes support program has been by her side.

Half of all neurological disabilities in children are related to premature birth.

"She celebrates with us on good days and comforts us on bad days. She has spent hours with me sitting at my son's bedside and letting me cry and helping to calm my fears," Johnson said.

"We still have over 6,000 babies who will be delivered prematurely in the state of Utah within our own facility. We will have, on average, one to tow preterm babies who will be admitted each day," said Dr. Bradley Yoder, medical director of the NICU at University Hospital.

March of Dimes members and the medical community said they remain determined to help women bring healthy babies into the world.


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Carole Mikita


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