November 19, 2009 at 6:16 PM EST - Updated September 26 at 9:10 PM
Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email Posted by Debra Worley - email
(WECT) - The March of Dimes says too many babies are being born too soon, costing the nation billions of dollars.
The organization's new report gives the United States a "D" in efforts to prevent pre-term births, the same grade we've earned for the past three years.
For Josh Hoffman, making it to first grade was a big deal. He was born four months early, weighing one pound, 11 ounces.
"It was absolutely the most terrifying experience," said Josh's mother Melanie. "We didn't know if he would live."
Despite multiple surgeries and lingering vision problems, Josh survived, but lots of pre-term babies don't.
More than half a million are born in the US every year, costing America $26 billion.
"Pre-term births cost ten times more, in terms of medical and health care costs," said Dr. Jennifer Howse with the March of Dimes. "This is a major league problem."
Advocates believe many early births can be prevented by: encouraging pregnant women not to smoke, by getting uninsured women to doctors, and by postponing elective c-sections and induced labor until 39 weeks.
Experts say every day in the womb reduces the chance of serious problems.
The CDC's national goal is to reduce pre-term births to about 7.5%.