March of Dimes hosts premature birth awareness day - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

March of Dimes hosts premature birth awareness day

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Louisiana has one of the highest rates in the United States when it comes to premature births, birth defects and infant mortality.

Brittany Tygart's first pregnancy didn't end quite as expected. "It was very nerve wracking" said Tygart. Her baby girl Lilly was born 8 weeks too early. "As soon as she was born, I wasn't able to hold her like normal. They had to rush her and fix her up" said Tygart.

Lilly has spent the first few weeks here fighting for her life. "It was really tough" said Tygart and her experience isn't unique. Every year a half million babies are born too soon in the United States. That's why the March of Dimes is asking hospitals across the nation to stop delivering babies before 39 weeks, as part of its "healthy babies are worth the wait" campaign.

"A baby takes 39 weeks, you want to keep that little bun in the oven" said Davis. The non-profit gave Louisiana a failing grade for it's 2012 premature birth report card and some of the highest rates are right here in North East Louisiana.

"A significant portion of that has to do with our poverty rate and lack of education that we have" said Dr. Amber Salas, an area Ob/Gyn. That's why St. Francis Medical Center, March of Dimes, The Women's Clinic joined forces to raise attention hosting an awareness day. The group announced plans to reduce pre term births 8 percent by 2014. "We're going to keep on fighting to change the statistics" said Davis.

Balloons were released to remember the little ones who have lost their fights, but also celebrate healthy babies, like baby Lilly who will get to go home for the first time in a week.

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