One in seven babies are born premature in Kentucky and the trend is going up. Statistics released Wednesday by the March of Dimes gives the entire nation a D grade. The group's report card gives kentucky an F.
Experts say obesity, lack of health insurance and mothers who smoke during pregnancy are major reasons why Kentucky ranks 46th in the nation for premature births.
"My reaction was not a surprise because I knew there was a lot of second hand smoking and first hand smoking among pregnant women and the rate of uninsured women is pretty high across the board," said Dr. Rene Santin.
Dr. Santin says each year in the U.S., 500,000 babies are born too soon.
"I think that recognizing the fact that we are not doing to good as a nation in preterm births is the first step," added Dr. Santin.
But in some cases, premature births are necessary. Like when it comes to Jennifer Coots and her twin daughters, Carlie and Erin. The girls were born six weeks early because of health risks. That also meant a longer hospital stay.
"That was pretty hard. We was only allowed to see them on our care times and they were in there for two weeks, so mommy cried for two weeks," said Coots.
Those lengthy, but required hospital stays make health care costs skyrocket. The March of Dimes hopes the report brings change.
"We want to help get the medical costs down, it costs three times as much for a premature birth as it does for a normal birth," said Michelle Wesley.
The March of Dimes will release the report card every November through 2010.
November is March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month.
You can find out more about the March of Dimes on our web channel just click on the links and numbers tab in our on demand section.