NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Doctors working to bring down the ever-growing rate of premature birth say prevention starts with the parents.

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“The days where the doctor himself or herself would be the one suggesting the tests are gone. We want the client to know what’s available out there,” says Sandra McCalla.

McCalla, Clinical Director of Obstetrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, says there are common risk factors.

“A short cervix is a predictor of premature birth and this is an exam that all women should ask of their providers,” says McCalla.

Doctors have yet to come up with a magic pill to stop a premature delivery, but McCalla says steroids have been proven effective.

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“These help the baby’s lungs mature a little bit faster. The babies have an easier course than the neonatal intensive care unit. They require less oxygen,” says McCalla.

Early Progesterone treatment is being used for women with a previous pre-term delivery.

“The good news is that an infant born who is not full term has a better chance of surviving,” she says.

The good news is that because of advances in neonatal care, doctors can now keep babies born under 2 pounds alive, although they are at serious risk for long term complications.

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WCBS 880 and Walgreens invite you to join us as we team up with the March of Dimes for the March for Babies walk on Sunday, May starting at Lincoln Center. Help fight premature birth. To register, go to Let’s walk together for stronger, healthier babies.