The March of Dimes is launching a five year campaign to raise awareness about premature births on the heels of a study showing premature births in Iowa were up 22-percent between 1990 and 2000. The March of Dimes has enlisted the help of Dr. Edward Bell of the University of Iowa to help get its message out. Bell says most people think of premature births as a problem for young mothers, or those who don’t take care of themselves while pregnant. Bell says that’s not always the case, as many times a premature birth is just a case of bad luck. Bell, who is the director of neonatology at the University Hospitals, says women should be alert to warning signs of problems. He says if something doesn’t feel right, women should get it checked out and should not assume it’s unrelated to the pregnancy. Dr. Bell says 11 out of every 100 babies born in Iowa every day are premature, leading to other concerns. Babies born prematurely require longer stays in the hospital, require more expensive medical care, have a higher risk of long-term health problems and have a higher risk of learning disabilities. In August, Dr. Bell delivered E’Maria Robinson of Davenport, the smallest surviving baby girl in Iowa. He says seeing a baby that small, even after years in the medical field, took his breath away. The baby weighed 11 ounces, which he says is very small when you consider a pop can is 12 ounces. E’Maria spent five-and-a-half months in the hospital and had three surgeries before going home last week. Dr. Bell says the warning signs of premature labor can range from cramps to backaches or flu-like symptoms. Iowa’s increase in premature births is slightly lower than the national increase of 27 percent.
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