Most recently, the March of Dimes has been targeting health care providers in its campaign "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait," in which it urges providers and patients not to schedule a delivery until after at least 39 completed weeks of pregnancy unless there is a medical reason.
According to the March of Dimes website, infants born after 39 weeks have more time for key organs to grow, such as the brain, lungs, and liver. They are also less like to have problems with their eyesight and hearing after birth, and more likely to have a good weight which will help keep their bodies warm.
Cole said he has hopes that the push for ending non-essential pre-term deliveries will help with better outcome for babies.
"Hopefully, the decline in non-medically indicated, elective late preterm births will continue to reduce the nation's overall prematurity rate," he said. "This decline will improve outcomes of both mothers and babies by reducing maternal delivery-associated morbidities, reducing need for neonatal intensive care for late preterm infants, and improving outcomes for babies."
Healthier babies would translate into healthcare savings, according to Howse.
"All this improvement means not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings of roughly $3 billion in health care and economic costs to society," she said.
For Pugh, the cost of Ethan's 96 day NICU stay was well worth it.
"He's doing really well in school," she said, adding that while Ethan has some mild gross motor delays that may affect activities like running, jumping, and balancing, he is catching up pretty well.
"Prematurity can happen to anybody," she said. "Having lived through that experience made me want to give back to other moms who have gone through premature birth."