CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - According to a new report by the March of Dimes premature birth rates are up across the nation and in The Heartland.
One mom in Cape Girardeau County is a mom to two preemies in the last two years.
"She is independent and rambunctious. Super smart. And Link is gaining motivation every day," said mom Samantha Matthews.
Matthews is a proud mom who's road to motherhood hasn't been easy.
"Link has a little bit of the developmental delays for the preemie part of things, but he has grown stronger and stronger since he was born," Matthews said.
Matthews has a genetic disorder, called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), that causes her liver to fail during pregnancy.
Which means both her children Nyla and Link came early.
"Every time I would go home my heart would break a little because I knew I had to go home without them," Matthews said.
A new report from The March of Dimes shows premature birth rates across the U.S are up for the second year in a row.
In Missouri - rates rose from 10 to 10.2 percent.
"There's more drug use, there's more poverty, there's more baseline poor health, and those things will all contribute to the premature birth rates," said Dr. Karlyle Christian - Ritter, Chief of Neonatology at St. Francis Medical Center.
Dr. Christian-Ritter says in Southeast Missouri - that number could be much higher.
The most recent date from Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services shows some counties had rates of up to nearly 20 percent from 2007 to 2011.
"As the obesity rates go up, the gestational diabetes rates goes up, so all of these things, all of these medical issues that we seem to have increasing rates of are going to contribute," Dr. Christian-Ritter said.
Doctor Christian Ritter says even with those factors there will always be special cases like Nyla and Link.
"We're not having any more kids, though, because it was way too traumatizing. We're done with the NICU stays, we're done with high risk pregnancies that could put me out of work, but these two were most definitely worth it," Matthews said.
According to Dr. Christian-Ritter premature birth is defined as any baby born at less than 37 weeks.