CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In 2021, the March of Dimes organization calculated that in Texas 11.4% of babies were born preterm.
That’s higher than the US rate of 10.5% but not as high as Corpus Christi’s rate of 11.7%.
Driscoll’s NICU Medical Director, Euming Chong tells KZTV this isn’t a surprise.
“The rate of prematurity has always gone up and down with time,” said Chong.
While the rate of premature births remained steady in 2020. The next year there was a 4% increase, the worst national rate since 2007.
“In the pandemic we initially did not see a high rate of prematurity but now we saw there are more births, so I think it correlates to why there are more preterm births,” Chong explained.
Karyn Salazar-Vega is one woman who gave birth prematurely in 2021. Her daughter Violet was 6 weeks early.
“It was a surprise,” said Salazar-Vega. “It was something we weren’t expecting. Having a baby go to NCIU and not go home with you. It’s awful and heartbreaking,” she said.
Salazar-Vega said it made her feel better knowing she was not alone.
“A lot of people will turn to the internet or Facebook support groups to find others who are going through similar experiences. I was able to connect with other moms who had their babies way earlier than Violet,” said Salazar-Vega.
Now, Chong expects the numbers to climb even more.
“It’s higher this year. Our NICU’s have all had higher senses which means we have more babies in there,” Chong said.
Chong explains how preterm births are tied to a mother’s health. If a woman is healthy earlier in life more than likely their baby will also be healthy.