Texas mothers face higher rates of preterm births compared to other states, new report says


AUSTIN (KXAN) — While carrying twins, Latreacia Mays’ doctor required her and the babies to get checked out every week. Each time the doctor would say, “let’s see if we can find a heartbeat.”

Mays and her husband held onto their faith even when the doctor told her she needed to abort one of the babies because of a medical condition.

“They had twin-to-twin transfusion, which means one is taking nutrients, so the other isn’t growing. If we didn’t cut off one of them (the doctor said) that we could risk losing both,” said Mays.

However, it was that unwavering faith that guided her and her husband to hold on to both babies. However, toward the end of her second trimester at 28 weeks, her doctor said her babies needed to come out.

“I just remember crying. Twenty eight weeks is the marker. Even if they do survive, statistics show they have birth defects, learning disabilities” Mays told KXAN’s Britt Moreno.

Mays and other Texas mothers often face the tough reality of delivering early. Mothers in Texas have preterm births above average when compared to mothers in other states.

A March of Dimes report recently released explained this year, Texas overall improved a bit when it comes to how many women make it to full-term births, but there’s a lot of work to be done when you consider Black women in Texas undergo preterm births 41% higher than the rate of other women.

“I didn’t realize I was even a statistic until I was a statistic” Mays, who is Black, said.

March of Dimes told KXAN its 2021 Report Card reveals for the first time in six years, the U.S. preterm birth rate declined slightly from 10.2% to 10.1%, with the nation keeping its C- grade. In Texas, the preterm birth rate improved from 11.0% to 10.8% in 2020, earning the state a D grade on this year’s report card.

Texas has counties with the highest percentage of uninsured women, the report said. Many counties in Texas are classified as maternity health care deserts, which means it is harder for pregnant women to get the prenatal care they need. There are also issues related to maternal mental health, substance use and cardiovascular risk, which contribute to poor health outcomes for both mothers and babies in Texas.

Shortly after Mays’ babies were delivered via C-section, they were taken to the NICU and put on breathing machines. Mays said March of Dimes helped by easing her worry during that difficult time. She said the organization educates both mom and baby. Now her babies are four years old, and she said they are her “miracles.”

March of Dimes says they work to end preventable maternal health risks and death, end preterm birth and close the health equity gap. Click here to donate to help families during this holiday season.

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