Hospitals In Kentucky To Research Premature births

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Six Kentucky hospitals will take part in a national study that will attempt to find better methods to cut premature birth rates.

The study is a result of a partnership by March of Dimes, the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute and the Kentucky Department for Public Health. "Premature birth is on the rise, it's been on the rise since
1980," Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, said at a news conference Tuesday at Norton Suburban Hospital to announce the initiative. "The lifetime consequences can be devastating and permanent."

About 14.4 percent of all live births in Kentucky are pre-term, that is, babies born before 37 full weeks of pregnancy. The U.S. average is 12.5 percent, according to the March of Dimes. The $1.5 million, three-year study will involve strategies that have been shown to reduce premature births - such as identifying pregnancy-related illnesses.

Half of the selected hospitals will use the strategies to see if they reduce premature births. The other three hospitals will be used as control sites for comparison.

The six hospitals being considered were University of Kentucky, Norton Healthcare, Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Trover Foundation and Regional Medical Center in Madisonville and Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)