Premature births on the rise

Premature births on the rise
By: Tiffany Sisson
The birth of a newborn is usually a joyful event! The memory of nine often uncomfortable months begin to fade. Unfortunately, the odds of a healthy start in life quickly begin to fall when a baby is born before the typical 40 weeks.
Rylan, Taryn, and Houston are Wendy Partin's tiny little miracles of life. "It was actually very spontaneous! Very shocking! We went in thinking the worse, and came out like we won the lottery," said Partin.
The triplets shared a bond inside Partin's womb. They've already developed their own personalities. "Houston is the youngest. He's very smiley. He grins all the time. Taryn, she's the sister. She's kind of taken the leader role. She's just done really well at everything. Rylan is the squawker. He likes to holler," explained Partin.
Strong lungs to belt out a scream are a good sign, considering the three were born 7 weeks early. "We got to 33 weeks. We were wanting to get to 34 at least, but I had some complications due to all the baby," joked Partin.
Dr. Rick Flaksman is a neonatologist. He helped the premature babies get stronger. "Sometimes the babies who are born as multiples don't make as much progress right away as babies who are singletons," said Flaksman.
After 3 weeks in the hospital the babies are set to go home. But for many preemies, an incubator is where they spend their first adventure in life, fighting to develop fully. "These are the bottom line critical issues of lung development. If the lung development is abnormal, babies have a tough way to go. Some don't even survive," explained Flaksman.
Death or severe cognitive and neuromotor impairment are common outcomes among extremely premature infants, fewer than 26 weeks gestation. "Babies who are born prematurely don't tolerate necessarily milk products the way full term babies do. Sometimes they can't even nurse properly or even bottle feed properly because they are too immature," said Flaksman.
Heartland News anchor Mary Ann Maloney's son, Cooper Royal was two months early. At 2 point four pounds, he was slightly larger than a coke can. He couldn't swallow or breath on his own, and he had to be fed through a tube that went into his stomach. Cooper was not mature enough to take a bottle or breast feed. For seven weeks cooper was closely watched in a NICU.
At age 39, Mary Ann's pregnancy was high risk, and her family has a history of small births. That critical information about the mother is what doctors are now focusing on to rethink the growing problem of pre term births. "Early prenatal care, and consistent prenatal care, or the elimination of things like smoking, alcohol, and certainly illegal drug use do contribute to a better outcome for babies," explained Flaksman.
All factors that were of triple significance for Wendy Partin who's now taking another significant step. "We're gonna stay home with them. It's gonna be interesting. They're calm right now, but they're saving it up til they get home, and they're gonna let me have it," exclaimed Partin.
The March of Dimes announced that it's teaming together with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Johnson and Johnson Pediatric Institute. Six Kentucky hospitals, including possibly Western Baptist in Paducah will take part in a national study to try and cut premature birth rates.