In the United States, prematurity or low birth weight is the second leading cause of all infant deaths and the leading cause of infant death among African-American babies. In 2008, Bexar County had a prematurity rate of 15.9 percent, compared to the state’s 13.4 percent. Nationally that year, the rate was 12.3 percent, according to Metro Health data.
Premature babies are at increased risk of newborn health complications, including breathing and intestinal problems and bleeding in the brain. They also are at increased risk of death and lasting disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy and vision and hearing loss.
For these reasons, Healthy Start partnered with March of Dimes to continue bringing prematurity to the forefront with a prematurity summit held at the Central San Antonio Public Library in early November. Dr. Schlenker spoke about the importance of awareness and increased communication with mothers-to-be and medical providers about how to reduce prematurity. Dr. Diane Ashton, deputy medical director for the March of Dimes served as the keynote speaker.
Earlier in September, Healthy Start and March of Dimes also partnered with a vigil honoring families affected by these tragic, sometimes preventable, losses.