RALEIGH, N.C. — When awaiting the birth of a child, it seems like time stands still. But when babies are born too soon and too small, parents would do anything to slow things down. More babies are being born prematurely than ever before.
Tara and Chris Koza were eager to welcome their daughter into the world, but they wish little Kaitlyn would have waited a bit longer to be born.
"I didn't believe for a second we were going to have a baby that day," Tara Koza said of her premature delivery.
Born 11 weeks early, Kaitlyn weighed 2 pounds 6 ounces. For now, her home is the intensive care nursery at Rex Hospital.
"The first thing that goes through their head is 'Is my baby going to live or die?' And they go through the steps of grieving also, because they didn't have a normal delivery process," nurse Wendy Morgan said.
According to the
March of Dimes
, one in every eight babies in America is born prematurely -- a nearly 30 percent increase since 1980. Experts are not sure what is to blame.
"For the most part, you really have no knowledge that a mother is going to go into premature labor. It's just something that happens," Dr. Stephen Kicklighter said.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple babies and uterine or cervical abnormalities are just a few of the things that increase a woman's risk.
Studies also show certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and stress play a role.
Kaitlyn arrived early because her umbilical cord was in a knot. Twenty days after her birth, Kaitlyn is finally breathing on her own.
"I take a look at my daughter and see what she's going through and how hard she's fighting and it really helps give me the strength I need to get through this," Tara Koza said.
Researchers say the increase in the number of multiple births does account for some of the growing numbers of preterm deliveries -- but not for the entire increase.
Test Calculates Risk Of Preterm Labor