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KDMC featured in KET documentary

ASHLAND KY – December 31 marked the conclusion of “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait,” a three-year initiative (2007, 2008, 2009) to address the issue of prematurity by the March of Dimes, the Kentucky Division of Maternal and Child Health, and the Johnson & Johnson Company.

King’s Daughters Medical Center and two other Kentucky hospitals were selected as focus organizations for the initiative, receiving grants and support to raise awareness about prematurity among physicians, nurses, administrators, patients and the community.

To highlight the efforts of the “Healthy Babies” initiative, Kentucky Educational Television (KET) has produced, “A KET Special Report: Born Too Soon in Kentucky.”

The original documentary airs 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, on KET. The program also will be posted online later in February at www.ket.org

King’s Daughters’ physicians, caregivers and patients were filmed several days last August and again in December, and will be featured prominently in the documentary.

To see a preview of “Born Too Soon,” visit www.ket.org/borntoosoon.

According to Amanda Preston, KDMC director of Women’s Health, “late preterm” births births –defined as births taking place between 34 to 38 weeks gestation– have declined 4 percent in the past three years at King’s Daughters as a result of the “Healthy Babies” initiative.

She credits the improvement to cooperation from parents, physicians and nursing staff as they educated about the risks associated with “late preterm” deliveries.

“For every week below 38 weeks, the risk of the baby having problems doubles,” Preston said. “It’s a very serious problem for a baby to be born even a few weeks early.”

The “Born Too Soon” documentary examines causes of preterm birth and efforts across the state to prevent this serious and costly health issue.

On its national report card in 2008, the March of Dimes awarded Kentucky an “F” for its rates of premature birth and low birth weight babies. Kentucky ranks 46th and 39th respectively in the nation. One of every seven babies born in Kentucky is pre-term.

Pre-term birth is the No. 1 cause of newborn death and is a leading cause of serious life-long disabilities.

According to Kentucky Youth Advocates, low birth weight and preterm babies are 28 percent more likely to die and 34 percent more likely to drop out of high school than full term babies of normal weight, even within the same family.

As adults they are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Preterm births cost $26 billion in the U.S. each year (and children who are born premature need a higher level of resources from schools and communities.)

Yet, 62 percent of pregnant women in Kentucky polled in a March of Dimes survey reported that they did not believe late preterm birth was a serious problem or were unsure.