November is Prematurity Awareness month, making this the perfect time to learn more about premature childbirth, the risks, and how to help the March of Dimes make a difference.
The March of Dimes is a global leader in the campaign for pregnancy and infant health. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to improve the health outcome of newborns by reducing premature birth rates and infant mortality.
Prematurity, defined as childbirth prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is the primary cause of newborn death and illness. Babies born preterm are at risk for serious health concerns, including long-term physical and mental disabilities. Every year, more than half a million American babies are born prematurely, bringing the USA’s preterm birth rate to 12.2%—higher than most other developed countries.
In 2003, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign, a large-scale initiative to lower the rate of preterm births. The campaign raises funds for research to determine the causes of preterm birth, offers support for families affected by prematurity, and advocates improving health care coverage for maternity care and infant health.
This year, the March of Dimes unveiled Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait, a nationwide program focused on reducing the rate of preventable premature births. The campaign was initiated in response to an alarming growth in the number of planned preterm inductions in the USA. Its goal is to increase awareness of the adverse effects of prematurity on infants, stressing the importance of waiting until at least 39 weeks to give birth, when possible.
At the local level, the March of Dimes chapters support a number of programs and events, working with hospitals and communities across the country to improve prenatal care and provide education and services for families.
The March of Dimes’ efforts are not confined to the USA; it assists several international organizations in the effort to reduce infant mortality and illness. In fact, today, November 17, 2011, marks the very first World Prematurity Day, a collaborative effort between the March of Dimes and organizations around the globe.
Visit marchofdimes.com to see how you can take part in raising premature birth awareness.