State Gets 'D' on Report Card, Works to Reduce Infant Deaths

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By News Department

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Over the next two years, state health officials hope to reduce the number of premature births in South Carolina by 700. Their plan of action? Stop paying for Early Elective Births.

"Exercise, eat well, wear your seat belts, wait for labor to start and don't induce your baby before 39 weeks," says Dr. Amy Picklesimer, Obstetrician and March of Dimes Volunteer.

Dr. Picklesimer gave those tips to expecting mothers during a press conference Monday to announce plans to lower the number of premature births in South Carolina.

"I warn the parent that they shouldn't expect to hear the baby cry in the deliver room," says Dr. Picklesimer.

According to the March of Dimes, prematurity is the leading cause of newborn deaths.

"One had heart failure and was , her fluids were building up in her lungs, her body was basically swelling from this and her organs were shutting down," says Alexa Bigwarfe, mother of premature twins.

"The other baby was severely small, she was growth restrictant so she only weighed 1 pound 10 ounces," says Bigwarfe.

Bigwarfe's twin girls, Charis and Kathryn, were born at 30 weeks and 5 days after suffering from TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome).

"They share a placenta, one baby's receiving too much fluid and the other boy is basically giving away her fluid," says Bigwarfe.

Sadly, Kathryn did not survive she died two days after birth.

Bigwarfe's girls are among the 14.1% of premature births in South Carolina.

But unlike her twins many are on purpose, say state health officials, because of Early Elective Deliveries.

"A mother, family member or physician decides to deliver the baby early, not for medical reasons but convenience," says Tony Keck, Director, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials say those births are also contributing to the 'D' grade the state received once again on the March of Dimes report card.

But, they are births the stae will no longer pay for.

"This is an example of just because you can do it in health car, doesn't mean you should do it in health care," says Keck.

"This is going to make for a lot more healthy babies. This is going to make for a healthy South Carolina," says South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

This initiative will officially take effect January 1, 2013.

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