RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- The March of Dimes released their premature birth report card today - and gave nevada a "D." Experts say the rate isn't as bad as it used to be, but there's a lot of room for improvement.
"I think problems of the beginning of life are most important," said Iain Buxton, regents professor at University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Buxton says we spend too much time trying to prevent death and not enough time thinking about how to ensure the start of a healthy life, which may be why the March of Dimes gave Nevada such a low grade.
"Our rate is 13.2 percent, which means about one in every seven babies are being born too soon," said Michelle Gorelow, March of Dimes spokeswoman.
Many of those require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, which Gorelow says can be costly.
"The average NICU stay is $3,000 - $5,000 per day. That doesn't include potential long-term health problems like breathing issues and cognitive impairments.
Gorelow is focusing on the positive.
"Though we're still at a "D" grade, I'm still very optimistic that we're going in the right direction," Gorelow said. "That we will reach our 9.6 percent goal."
Buxton says that's still too high, but setting a reachable goal is important.
"If you suddenly said we're going to eliminate pre-term birth completely, you'd get lost in the effort because you can't do it in a hurry," Buxton said. "I think we can get much lower than 9.5 percent, but it'll take some time to get there."
And it will take some effort.
A lot of it is preventable and that's what the prenatal care is all about," said Registered Nurse Darrella McGuire. She says part of that care is quitting bad habits like smoking and starting healthy ones like eating well and exercising.
No matter what the current percentage, it's an issue that needs attention.
"It's extremely important," McGuire said. "It's imperative because our babies our future depends on it."