SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County has one of the highest rates of premature births in the state of Texas, according to the 2016 Premature Birth Report Card published by the March of Dimes.
March of Dimes gave Bexar County a 'D' on its 2016 premature birth report card.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of death during the first month of a newborn's life. That’s why the nonprofit organization is hosting a Prematurity Prevention Summit to tackle the problem and discuss the importance of carrying to full-term.
March of Dimes said each year, more than 15 million babies are born too early and 1 million babies die.
"I had three premature babies. Two that didn’t make it and one that I have — my living miracle," Roxanne Torres said.
Logan was born at just 29 weeks and weighed 3 pounds and 12 ounces.
"I had to go through a lot as a parent, just having him in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Having him early, it was hard for me to just leave him at the hospital," Torres said.
Christie Goodman can relate. Both her daughters were born nine weeks early.
"There’s just so much more than you'd expect. She came home on a monitor that was so loud you could hear it down the street if her heart were to slow down, heartbeat and breathing. We were on constant alert," Goodman said.
"A lot of things happen in the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. (Babies) breathing problems if their lungs are immature, vision problems, hearing problems, feeding problems," said Dr. Lawrence O’Brien, summit moderator and medical director of Molina Healthcare.
Not only are the health risks associated with having a pre-term birth higher, the costs are also higher. For example, the average Medicaid costs of having a preemie baby is an average $109,220 compared with a full-term newborn at $572.
Medical professionals and local agencies are working together to find a solution. They hope through community awareness, programs and accessibility of resources, they can bring the early birth rates down.
"I’m glad the health care community is coming together, because this is something San Antonio can tackle. We've tackled big things before in this city and this is one we can do also,” Goodman said.
For more information, visit www.marchofdimes.org/.