BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana has received another F report card, this one for having the highest rates of premature births in America. A big concern because it's the leading cause of death among newborns in the United States. Thursday, several agencies dealing with mom and baby care met in Baton Rouge to discuss solutions.
According to March of Dimes, an organization fighting to raise awareness to curb premature births, this year is the first year local data has been released. It shows New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport have the highest premature cases in the country. New Orleans has 12.1%, Baton Rouge has 13.0% and Shreveport has 18.8%.
"That is worse than some of the third world countries," says Markesha Judson, with March of Dimes.
For perspective, in 2014, Louisiana as a whole had 15.1%, which equaled more than 9,000 babies.
"There are things that we're not doing up to par in the medical establishment that we need to change," said Dr. Rebekah Gee, and obstetrician in New Orleans. She is also the medical director for Medicaid in the state, which serves a large number of expecting moms. She says Medicaid is where a lot of the issues are.
"We're the highest in the nation on c-sections. It's unacceptable. This notion that you can have your baby whenever you want, convenient for you. It needs to go away," said Gee.
Those who work with mothers and baby's say there needs to be more education getting some doctors and women's families to understand the importance of a full term, 40 week pregnancy.
Dr. Gee says if a doctor tries to deliver a baby before that time, a woman should question whether she is getting the best possible care.
"You need to start asking your obstetrician, Do I need to be induced? Why do I need to deliver early?"
If an expecting mom has delivered a pre-term baby, Gee says it's important that woman take a hormone called Progesterone during her next pregnancy to avoid another early birth.
The state is also now taking part in something called Go the Full 40, encouraging hospitals not to perform an elective birthing prior to 40 weeks - if not deemed medically necessary.