One in eight American babies are born early. Now, studies show those births are taking a toll on the babies and costing millions more in health care.
Many mothers say the last few weeks of pregnancy are tough to stick out. Courtney Burlison says, "I was getting real uncomfortable, and I was already losing sleep and everybody kept telling me get your sleep now. It was real easy to want to be induced. In fact, I begged my doctor to induce me and he wouldn't."
Susan Bennet, a March of Dimes volunteer, says although babies are often induced for medical reasons, many mothers choose to do it for other reasons. "Maybe they want to go on vacation, maybe they want a tax deduction, maybe their doctor is going on vacation, and they want a specific doctor to deliver their baby," she says.
Bennett and other March of Dimes volunteers say early delivery can have major consequences on the baby, including underdeveloped lungs and brain and cognitive difficulties when they're older. They also say babies delivered at 37 or 38 weeks can end up costing ten times as much as full-term newborns.
Now, March of Dimes is asking all hospitals to require doctors who have elective deliveries scheduled before 39 weeks to have a medical reason.
"Let the baby tell the mother when they're ready. When the mother goes into natural labor, that's when the baby's ready," Bennett says.
Looking back, Burlison says, "It's worth it if you go ahead and stick it out."