Rate of premature births in Utah down in 2012

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SALT LAKE CITY - Nearly 11 percent of babies born in Utah are premature, costing insurance companies and parents both money and time. While that number is dropping, doctors say Utah still has a long way to go.

Dr. Sean Esplin at the University of Utah Hospital and Intermountain Healthcare says premature birth is a major problem in Utah and the leading cause for neonatal death and long-term health problems.

But the 7,500 premature births - or 10.9 percent - in Utah last year is an improvement over recent years. The March of Dimes gave Utah a B for the premature birth rate this year, compared to the C in 2011 with an 11.3 percent premature birth rate.

"It's the first time we've dropped in over five years, " said Julie Drake, with the Utah Chapter of the March of Dimes. "We've improved."

Health professionals say good prenatal care and the use of progesterone to prevent moms from recurring preterm deliveries and not allowing patients early elective deliveries will help decrease the rate of premature births.

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