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March of Dimes Leads Effort to Lower the Number of Pre-Term Births

CEDAR RAPIDS (CBS 2/ FOX 28)--In quiet moments, Jessica Perry feels closest to her baby girl.
At five pounds and eight ounces, her daughter Josaphina is now healthy and strong.
"Shes just growing and gaining weight and learning to eat," said Perry.
Its a blessing says the new mom who gave birth in October--two months prematurely.
"I wasn't prepared at home or at all for her coming this early, so I was really nervous," Perry said.
Jessica's story isn't unusual.
A new report shows that 11.5% of births were premature last year in Iowa.
A number that some local groups say is too high.
"It's really a public health crisis," said Michelle LeCompte a volunteer leader with the March of Dimes.
The group is partnering with local hospitals to raise awareness about the dangers of pre-term births. Their goal is to lower the number of premature births in Iowa from 11.5% to 9.6% by 2020.
Theyre also raising money to help develop research that would better help women have full-term pregnancies.
"Premature babies are not just little and cute, LeCompte said. What happens when you're born premature, you're organs haven't finished developing."
A condition experts say could cause major health risks.
"They can have heart problems, brain problems, lung problems," said Dr. Roger Allen, director of the Mercy Medical Centers NICU.
Allen says many of those health challenges can last through adulthood and even rack up millions of dollars in medical care.
"A sick premature baby can cost as much as a quarter of million to a half million dollars for their care," he said.
A scenario Jessica says she's glad she's not in and after two months of waiting and watching her baby girl, she's looking forward to a day most new moms do.
"We'll be heading home," Perry said.
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