Southeast Missouri's premature birth report card is grim - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Southeast Missouri's premature birth report card is grim

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Why Bailey came early remains a mystery. Why Bailey came early remains a mystery.
But more than three years later, little Bailey is happy and healthy. But more than three years later, little Bailey is happy and healthy.
The Koch's now have a new addition to their family. The Koch's now have a new addition to their family.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

One in eight babies is born prematurely. That's the case across the nation and in Missouri.

While the numbers are much better than even five years ago, according to the March of Dimes, there's still plenty of room for improvement.

The March of Dimes started out almost 75 years ago to fight polio. But, after winning that battle, organizers began the war on premature births.

In southeast Missouri, the prematurity report card is pretty grim.

"We're a D, bordering on an F," said Beth Simmons with March of Dimes.

Though, overall Missouri gets a 'C'

"The new number one killer of American children is pre-mature birth," Simmons said.

Three and half years ago Kate Koch was glowing, and ready to become a first-time mom.

"My pregnancy with Bailey was perfect," said Koch. "I started pre-natal care at six weeks, no problems whatsoever."

At 25 weeks she ended up in the hospital.

"I was 4 centimeters dilated, they couldn't stop my contractions," Koch said.

Two days later, she delivered tiny baby Bailey.

"She was 1 pound, and 15 ounces, 13 inches long-you could hold her in your hand," Koch said.

In their 67 days in the hospital, Jason and Kate Koch experienced multiple ups and downs.

"They can't tell you what's going to happen," said Koch. "They just prepare you for the worst."

But more than three years later, little Bailey is happy and healthy.

"She's my miracle baby," said Koch. "That's me, when I was a baby," said Bailey looking at her baby picture.

Why Bailey came early remains a mystery.

"Smoking during pregnancy, drinking during pregnancy, not getting proper prenatal care has a lot to do with it," said Beth Simmons with the March of Dimes. "But there is about 50 percent that we don't know why babies are born prematurely. You can do everything right and go into labor early."

Kate and Bailey fall into that 50 percent.

Because there's still so much unknown, the March of Dimes continues to not only educate women about healthy pregnancies, but also fund research.

"One out eight babies born in Missouri is born prematurely, that's 191 a week and 12 a week don't survive," said Simmons.

The Koch's now have a new addition to their family.

Two month old Aden was born full term.

"He was 7 pounds, seven ounces, 21 inches long," said Koch.

She had to take medicine throughout her entire pregnancy to ensure she didn't go into early labor.

Kate can't imagine her life without the March of Dimes and the organization's efforts to prevent pre-term babies.

"I don't know if I would have my kids, they are very important and very dear to my heart," Koch said.

Thursday night, the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the March of Dimes is hosting one of its biggest fundraisers of the year.

It's the Fourth Annual Signature Chefs Auction at the Plaza Conference Center in Cape Girardeau.

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