Report: Palm Beach County 'hot spot' for premature births

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - According to a report released Thursday, the March of Dimes says Florida has a high number of premature babies being born every year, especially in Palm Beach County.

The problem is costing parents thousands of dollars a year, and now employers are starting to feel the financial burden.

The average cost of a baby born without complications is about $4,500 for the year.  However, annual costs to care for a premature baby jumps to more than $50,000.

Palm Beach County was ranked as a hot spot, with West Palm Beach receiving a "C" rating.

Babies born in Orlando and St. Petersburg earned a grade of "C".  Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa earned a "D" while Fort Lauderdale received an "F".   Here's a link to Florida's full report card.

The study cited that one reason could an increase in number elective deliveries, more women opting to have early scheduled C-sections. Those procedures also cost more than a natural birth.

The March of Dimes is pushing for more women to pay attention to prenatal care and for more employers to offer the right maternity coverage to their employees.

If a woman's pay won't cover certain prenatal care and exams, often they are more apt to skip it than pay out of pocket.

Premature births are also costing employers big money since it puts a burden on the health insurance companies who may raise premiums.

The study looked at major companies and found on average that premature babies cost $55,000 a year, with insurance companies covering about $54,000 of that amount.

Nationally, the preterm birth rate was 9.6 percent in 2014, earning the United States a "C", meeting the March of Dimes 2020 goal early.

Portland, Ore., has the best preterm birth rate of the top 100 cities with the most births nationwide, while Shreveport, La., has the worst, the report said.

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