COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - They are the tiniest in our community, and we are failing them.
According to the March of Dimes, Georgia and Alabama are not doing enough to prevent premature births. In fact, most of the South gets a failing grade.
Dr. Jefferson Jones II, a Columbus obstetrician/gynecologist explains why. "Teenage mothers have a greater risk of premature births. We need to do a better job of educating young people about sex." He jokingly says, "young people should be forced to watch the birth of a child. That might change their minds about sex."
Dr. Jones points to other risk factors like smoking and expectant moms not taking care of themselves. "The overall health of people in the South is stereotypically lacking. There's more diabetes and hypertension. Obviously with those mothers being pregnant, they're at risk for having to deliver their babies a little earlier from birth problems."
Some premature births are not preventable. Melissa Thomas was expecting twins next February. She delivered them in early November, twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy.
Thomas says it wasn't a complete surprise. "My doctor said with multiples there's a risk of having them early. Now, we didn't expect 25 weeks early!"
Thomas's sons, George and Charlie, have a much better chance of survival thanks to the High Risk Nursery at the Columbus Medical Center.
They've been in the nursery a little more than a week, and are expected to remain until their actual due date three months from now. Thomas says she's thankful to have been at the right place when she started to deliver.
"It's eye-opening to know that in Columbus there's someplace like this that takes care of such tiny miracles." And miracles like the Thomas twins make it hard to accept getting an F on your report card.