Houston ranks high in premature birth rates

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HOUSTON, TX - Houston might have a hard time coming to terms with this new finding, literally! A report from the March of Dimes' ranks the Bayou City "high" in premature birth rates. Dr. Edward McCabe, Chief Medical Officer for the March of Dimes, says, "We've been doing the March of Dimes Prematurity Report Cards for eight years. It's a way of tracking how the us is doing overall. Houston, actually didn't do as well."

According to the report, Houston scores a "D" grade, with 10.8 percent of births in the city being premature. The nation average is 9.6 percent. So what can women do to make sure their babies go a full term? According to Dr. McCabe, "Planning the pregnancy. Seeing a health care provider before you get pregnant, so you can stop smoking, stop drinking, stop illicit drugs or other drugs that might be harmful. Get you body to an appropriate weight, and we just updated that with the institute of medicine to help women be at the best weight as they're going through their pregnancy."

Another possible contributor to the city's high premature rates; Houston also ranks high among couples going through infertility treatments. Fertility drugs increase the chances of a woman becoming pregnant but it also leads to twins, triplets and even high number of multiples, and they have a much higher rate of preterm birth.

The U.S. has a 9.6 percent prematurity rate. The March of Dimes says that's not low enough, and has set a goal to lower the national rate down to 5.5 percent by 2030. By doing better, we're insuring that our future generations get the right start in life.