Oklahoma Receives Prematurity Birth Grade - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma Receives Prematurity Birth Grade

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ARDMORE, OKLAHOMA -- The March of Dimes premature birth report card gave the U.S. a "C" for its 2013 grade. Oklahoma is a "D"

November is prematurity awareness month, KTEN News visited the March of Dimes office in Ardmore for more information on premature births in Oklahoma.

Not all children start out like little 3 year old Emma.

"Our daughter Emma she was born at 29 weeks, a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks," said Carrie Pfrehm.

Emma was born early when her mother, Carrie, experienced pre-ecalmpsia.

A condition which affects blood pressure, the kidneys and liver. And if it isn't treated, it could have taken the life of both mother and child.

"We didn't understand if it was something we had done if it was something that could have been prevented," said Pfrehm.

The only treatment for the condition is delivery. So Emma was born 11 weeks early.

She was on a respirator to help her breathe for almost two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.

But now, she's completely health and in her mom's words...

"A very energetic three year old little girl," said Carrie.

Melissa Woolly, a mother of two premature babies of her own, says half a million babies are born prematurely nation wide each year.

"250,000 of those are preventable," said Wooly, community director of the Arbuckle division of The March of Dimes. "[They are caused] by drugs, alcohol, smoking, and domestic violence and teen pregnancy."

Experts say, the other 250,000 deaths can't be explained. But Woolly says the organization is working to help educate people hoping to decrease the number of premature births.

"So the ones that we know why we're trying to educate those people and make them aware the other half we're trying to figure out why so we can stop it," said Woolly. "Because 1 in 9 babies in the state of Oklahoma is born premature."

Both Pfrehm and Woolly stress the importance of doctor visits during pregnancy.

"I went to my regular appointment with my doctor on Wednesday..on a Wednesday," said Pfrehm. "That following Friday, two days later, our daughter was born. That's how critical those appointments are."

"If you're not making your appointments and your not following doctor's instructions then there's a lot of those little things that you're missing out on," said Woolly.

Woolly says one out of every eight babies born prematurely in Oklahoma do not see their first birthday.

The state of Texas' received a "C" on the 2013 report card.

For more information on World Prematurity Day, which is November 17, you can go to the March of Dimes website here.