CENTRAL FLORIDA - The state of Florida has a D grade when it comes to the number of premature births – and Florida's rate is double that of Western Europe.
In fact, 1-in-13 babies in Florida is born early.
A local father is working hard to help others and improve on that D grade.
Kylie Pelleymounter was 1 pound 2 ounces and was delivered 17 weeks early.
"During her NICU days it was scary for sure. The outcome paints a pretty grim picture of what her future would be like but she's miraculously gone through things," father Josh Pelleymounter said.
Now she's a literal poster child for preemie babies as the ambassador for the March of Dimes March for Babies walk later in April.
Her father is grateful for previous fundraisers that helped with the research that saved his daughter's life.
"Today she's doing great, obviously behind developmentally she's had a bunch of different issues but she's always smiling. Always having a good time, interacts with her big brother," Pelleymounter said.
Kylie's premature birth is a mystery. Other trigger factors are more predictable like prenatal smoking and poor health care. But educating moms -- and learning why moms who do everything right, still deliver early -- is the goal of doctors and researchers.
"So how can we understand what those missing links are, (are) there things we can identify earlier in her blood stream, for example, that would lead us to therapies that would prevent that premature delivery," Dr. Victoria Niklas said.
Hear more from Dr. Niklas and Pelleymounter Saturday on Central Florida Spotlight at 12:30.
9 Family Connection will look at what's being done, what parents can do and how central Florida can help improve the D grade.