Innovative program looks to prevent pre-term birth

For any woman who gets pregnant, carrying your baby full-term is as important as having a healthy child. 

But one out of eight babies is born premature.

Doctors are trying to stop that trend using an innovative new program.

Over the last 20 years the number of premature babies has nearly doubled. They're now born at a rate of about one per minute, every minute of every day.

It's a troubling trend doctors still can't predict with any certainty. Dr. Mark Klebanoff with Ohio Nationwide Children's Hospital says, "Most premature babies are born to women who have not had problems with pregnancies in the past, or this may be their first pregnancy."

Women like Erin Camp who was young and fit and well on her way to a routine delivery.

Erin says, "Inside, on the ultrasound, he looked perfect. He did. He was already practicing his breathing at 24 weeks, which doesn't happen until they're almost 30 weeks."

But unexpectedly, her son Cade was born 3 months early and weighed just two and half pounds.

Cade's getting healthier, but now that they're expecting their second baby, the camps want to do all they can to avoid another preterm birth.

So they're hoping to take part in an innovative new program by researchers. The idea is to take blood and urine samples from the parents before birth and the babies after they're born to build a massive databank of medical information.

Dr. Klebanoff says, "We're hoping that with the specimens we collect, we'll be able to learn more, that will help us understand how to predict problems in a pregnancy."

Dr. Jay Iams with Ohio State University Medical Center says, "And then the second thing, we hope, will be that we can use that information to devise intervention strategies."

The database of medical information will start at Nationwide Children's Hospital but, eventually doctors hope it will include parents and babies from all over the country.

Doctors say once they build a big enough library of information, they will be able to better predict problems and develop therapies to treat premature babies.

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