Premature Birth Rates Up in West Virginia - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Premature Birth Rates Up in West Virginia

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - The 2017 premature birth report card is out and West Virginia scores an "F".

Fourteen percent of babies in Kanawha County are born premature, but there are things you can do to help, whether you're an expecting mother or not.

While doctors say there are some things expecting moms can do to avoid a premature birth other times there are complications beyond human control. When that happens, families can easily become overwhelmed. 

Amelia is a curious, energetic 3 1/2-year-old. She's growing stronger every day, but she had a tough start at life.

"I was 26 weeks and 1 day. She weighed 1 pound 4.5 ounces, she was in pretty bad shape," Kim Wriston told 13 News. 

Wriston wasn't able to hold Amelia for weeks after her emergency C-section, due to a rare pregnancy complication.

"I felt like my body had failed us and like 'this is not how babies are supposed to be born and brought into the world," Wriston added.

But Wriston found help with NICU support classes and March of Dimes events.

"I never lost hope because there was always a NICU nurse or a NICU staff member or a March of Dimes staff person or later other NICU parents that gave me that support. So that really helped get us through" Wriston said.

Sometimes moms, like Wriston, do everything right and still have complications. But a lot of West Virginians still smoke and use drugs during pregnancy, greatly increases chances for premature birth. 

"And part of the problem also is if people who are using substances are afraid to go to the physician because they're afraid of the consequences, then they may not seek prenatal care- which is an issue," Dr. Stefan Maxwell, Director of the New Born ICU at CAMC Women and Children's Hospital.

Dr. Maxwell says getting to the doctor during pregnancy is the best thing you can do for your baby.

"Obviously the earlier you're in prenatal care and the more prenatal care you have, the less chance of your having a complicated pregnancy and less chance of a premature birth," Dr. Maxwell added.

Access to care can be a challenge with fewer OBGYNs and birthing centers open in West Virginia each year. Many expecting moms struggle with transportation or cost of insurance.

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