Premature birth rate up in Texas, United States

The rate of premature births has increased in Texas and the entire United States after nearly a decade of decline.

More than 380,000 babies were born prematurely across the country in 2016. In Texas, one in every 10 births was premature.

The March of Dimes annual report card on pre-term births gives the nation a grade of ‘C’, with premature births increasing everywhere. Texas received a ‘D’ while Dallas County improved to a ‘B.’ Tarrant County was on par with the nation, graded ‘C’.

“Unfortunately in the last two years there’s been a slight uptick where its increased somewhat and that’s not what we want to see,” said Marla Ellis, March of Dimes. “Tarrant County worsened this year and right now we're still evaluating the data. There’s no one solution. Pre-term birth rate the issues are very complex.”

Most alarming to watchers is that 49 percent of African American births are premature nationwide. In Texas, that number is 40 percent.

“We know that racial and ethnic disparities play a role in preterm birth and we know that social and environmental factors play a role in health,” Ellis said.

But that’s not always the case. Chris and Amy Skaggs had twins at 28 weeks and six days.

“We had the best doctors, great insurance, great hospital,” said father Chris Skaggs. “It was pretty much a text book pregnancy until about the twentieth week.”

Jaxon lived, but Leighton lost her life after several weeks.

“There’s no known cause no way to prevent it. It’s just something that happens,” said mother Amy Skaggs.

March of Dimes funds five prematurity research centers across the country trying to solve the mystery of pre-term births.

“A mom can do everything perfectly and still have a preterm birth. It’s just not fair, but in about 60 percent of the cases we do not have the biological reasons as to why preterm birth is occurring,” Ellis said. “We need answers. If the March of Dimes can find a solution to polio, we can find a solution to preterm birth.”

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