March of Dimes gives Ala. an "F" for its high preterm birth rate -, GA News Weather & Sports

March of Dimes gives Ala. an "F" for its high preterm birth rate

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State leaders and healthcare professionals were disappointed Tuesday that the state was one of three to get an "F" from the March of Dimes when it comes to reducing the number of premature births.

The March of Dimes has a goal to reduce the percent of preterm births to 9.6 percent in the state. Alabama's latest number is at 14.9 percent. Factors contributing to this high percentage are the number of women who are uninsured and the number of women who smoke.

The number of babies born too soon in Alabama has improved from 15.6 percent but not enough to prevent the state from getting an "F" from the March of Dimes.

"Mainly because the large number of preterm births we have had. There have been some improvements with uninsured women but our smoking rates have not improved as it should," Gayle Whatley, a nurse practitioner who volunteers with the March of Dimes, said.

Monday night, FOX6 News told the story of Halle Scott who was born after 24 weeks and remains on a ventilator seven months after being born. Amy Windham was provided prenatal care but it did not prevent her daughter from being born premature.

Windham remains amazed by the effort and technology being used to save her daughter.

"One time I said we are at a dead end, [the doctor] said absolutely not. We are going to try this, this and this. If that doesn't work we are going to try this medication. We don't stop. I said wow," Windham said.

Still, state leaders are very disappointed with the failure to reduce preterm births.

"One of things we want to see is improvement is prenatal care. That is one of the things that is very important," Gov. Robert Bentley said.

Vestavia Hills Sen. Jabo Waggoner, a longtime volunteer with the March of Dimes, says the state must step up their efforts to save children.

"With the healthcare facilities in this state, particularly in Birmingham, there is no excuse. We have to get busy; there is a lot of work to do," Waggoner said.

Whatley says education remains the key.

"We need to make women aware that premature births are a problem and the things they can do to prevent pre-term births is to be sure they are getting pre-natal care," Whatley said.

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