Cleveland has highest U.S. preemie birth rate

Cleveland has highest U.S. preemie birth rate

CLEVELAND - A startling statistic has Cleveland in last place in the nation.

The March of Dimes Annual Preterm Birth Report Card says we are the worst of 100 large cities when it comes to premature births.

Lynnette Fellows' baby Zoey was born 3 months premature.

"All I could do was cry and pray. I got to put my hand in the incubator. I got to talk to her. I soothed her. I cried. I prayed. I said 'Zoey, I want you to be here a little longer'," says Fellows.

She is one face behind the latest statistic here.

Among 100 U.S. cities, Cleveland weighs in as the worst.

The highest number of premature births at nearly 15% according to the latest March of Dimes report.

The sad fact is that more than half of the preemies born in Cuyahoga County die before their first birthday.

Lynette's tiny 1lb 7oz fighter died just 8 days after she was born.

"Oh it was the worst moment. I just wanted to die with her," says Fellows.

Where Lynette lives at E.108th and St. Clair is the Cleveland neighborhood with the second highest infant mortality rate according to the latest March of Dimes map.

The number of preemies dying there is three times the national average.

"In our area where we live now it's real common. I see it all the time. I'm like what is going on?  I was doing everything you were supposed to do.  Prenatal vitamins and I went to my doctor checkups. I don't smoke. I didn't drink pregnant," says Fellows.

2 years later, this still heartbroken mother is studying to be a nurse and is 5 months pregnant with a baby daughter.

"I'm still scared. Everyday it's like 'don't move the wrong way.  Don’t breathe the wrong way'," says Fellows.

For the second year in a row, the nation’s preterm birth rate has also increased according to the March of Dimes report.

In Ohio the annual report says the preterm birth rate among black women is almost 50% higher than the rate among all other women.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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