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Nevada receives "C" grade for high number of preterm births

babystethoscopeCDC.jpg

Earlier this month, Nevada received a “C” grade from the March of Dimes for its high number of preterm births. Statewide about 1 out of every 8 women give birth before their babies reach 37 weeks.

A March of Dimes report found the premature birth rate in Nevada to be 12.6 percent, more than one percent higher than the national average. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths nationwide and the last few weeks in the womb are crucial.

Michelle Gorelow oversees March of Dimes programs for the state.  

“That last four weeks is so critical,” Gorelow says. “Things such as your baby’s brain, lungs, and liver—they are still developing. A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only at two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks.”

Gorelow says preemies have more complications and can develop life-long disabilities such as cerebal palsy, blindness and deafness. The March of Dimes funds programs that help babies reach full-term including Centering Pregnancy, which gathers women in a group for prenatal education and care.

“They start supporting each other during the pregnancy and they get to spend more time with their provider,” Gorelow says. “It’s not just a 10 to 15 minute visit, they’re with their provider for 45 minutes to an hour and they learn about how to eat healthy, how to exercise during pregnancy, and ways to relieve stress”

Gorelow says Centering Pregnancy is one key reason the state has seen a drop in preterm births of almost two percent since 2008. The program was set up at Renown Medical Center several years ago and is currently expanding to St. Mary’s and other local healthcare providers.

The March of Dimes is also working to reduce the rate of elective deliveries, in particular the scheduled deliveries of babies before they reach 40 weeks. Currently, Renown’s elective delivery rate is less than three percent.

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.