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Ask a Doc: Wisconsin's preterm birth rates and ensuring a healthy pregnancy

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Ask a Doctor

MADISON (WKOW) — On this Ask a Doctor segment, 27 News discussed preterm birth rates and the latest March of Dimes report.

Dr. Nathan Lepp, a neonatologist from UW Health Kids, stopped by the studio.

The March of Dimes looks at preterm birth rates and assigns a letter grade. Wisconsin got a grade of "C" on the 2022 report card, with a preterm birth rate of 10%, up slightly from 9.9% the year before.

"What it really means with a 10% birth rate that means that one in ten babies in Wisconsin are born preterm, and it can have problems associated with prematurity," Lepp said.

The report also says there is a disparity in preterm birth rates among minorities.

"African American women have a 68% higher chance of a preterm birth, compared to women of other ethnicities," Lepp said.

Lepp said there are ways to erase the disparity, like extending Medicaid coverage up to 12 months postpartum and addressing bias in the healthcare system.

He said to ensure a healthy pregnancy, those who are pregnant should take care of their bodies, get preterm care, and let their doctors know if something doesn't feel right.

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