WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 17, 2010, 10:17 AM

March of Dimes Premature Births Report: Still room for improvement in ND

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The March of Dimes is out with its annual report card on Premature Births. While the country gets a letter grade of "D", North Dakota has moved up a grade from last year. The non-profit group says there is room for improvement.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

There is reason for Christine Hirschey to celebrate the simple things like watching her twin 4-year old girls Paige and Ella paint a ceramic bowl. They were born 14 weeks premature, weighing just over a pound each.

CHRISTINE HIRSCHEYMOM OF PREMIES: “It was awful; we were very scared because we did not know. It was touch and go for us. We were not sure if they were going to survive or not and first few months because they were so sick.”

They spent 8-months in the NICU and even as graduates; they still deal with issues surrounding their premature births. But today, it is about getting together with other Moms of preemie babies.

“It is not just the health of the babies, but health of the whole family. It took extended family to survive.”

North Dakota has taken a step forward in the March of Dimes Report Card on preemie births from a D last year to a C this year. Still one popular delivery choice is affecting the state’s premature birth reputation.

COLLETTE CHRISTOFFERSMarch of Dimes Support Group: “If you think you are delivering a C section baby at 38 weeks, you could have 36 weeks which would put it in the NICU.”

Lisa Nelson has her hands full with 15-month old twins Finly and Marina. Lisa is a parent volunteer with a March of Dimes' Support group. She says having babies in the NICU is traumatic and hardly the storybook pregnancy ending moms hope for.

LISA NELSON Mom of Premies: “That birth that you see on TV when everyone goes home as one big happy family.”

With 11 percent of all births in North Dakota premature, March of Dimes hopes the next report card to come out, will document fewer preemie babies in the state, and a report grade that boasts a letter B or A.

Meantime, a unique team helped take part in that special Bowls for Babies event at Essentia today. Children, who were hospitalized as preemies when they were born, gathered as graduates to paint bowls for the upcoming March of Dimes fundraiser in December.

The moms of the babies are part of a special support group that March of Dimes sponsors. It is a way for parents to stay connected while their babies are in the NICU, and once they leave.

“With the support group that they have here now, it is a great way for help and sound off.”

The Bowls for Babies event is set for Wednesday, December 1st at the Ramada. Area chefs provide the soup. Money raised from the bowl sales will benefit March of Dimes.