November is Prematurity Awareness Month, when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. Activities include the release of the Premature Birth Report Card and World Prematurity Day on November 17.
Ask most moms-to-be whether they want a boy or a girl and most of the time they’ll say “it doesn’t matter, as long as my baby’s healthy.”
But each year around the world, 15 million babies are born too soon, and nearly 1 million of them die before their first birthday. Despite all of the medical advances pioneered in the United States, our country ranks 130 out of the 200 countries in the world for our rate of premature birth. Premature birth is the #1 killer of babies in the United States, and in Florida 1 in 9 babies are born prematurely.
The March of Dimes is working to help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies, and I’m proud to work with them as a volunteer. Our mission is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more than 75 years, the March of Dimes has supported research and educational programs that help more babies get a healthy start in life.
When I started volunteering with the March of Dimes in high school, I had no idea that with the birth of my first child, I would become a March of Dimes statistic. On January 6, 2010, our son Alex was born at 32 weeks, weighing 4lbs, 1oz. When we were finally able to see him nearly 8 hours later, he was on a ventilator, but had been given surfactant in order to prevent his lungs from collapsing (March of Dimes-funded research developed surfactant therapy, which has reduced respiratory deaths of premature infants by half).
Alex spent the first month of his life in the NICU, but today, as a direct result of treatments that were funded by the March of Dimes, Alex is a happy and healthy 5 year old — and big brother to Sofia Grace (who was born healthy at 39 weeks).
While incredible breakthroughs such as surfactant therapy have increased the survival rate for babies born prematurely, our goal is to prevent babies from being born too soon. The March of Dimes has opened five research centers dedicated to finding the unknown causes of premature birth because even babies born just a few weeks before their due date have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month, but premature birth is a serious problem that March of Dimes is working toward solving every day. We thank you for your support of this incredibly important cause, and invite you to register to walk with over 6,000 members of our community in March for Babies on April 23, 2016: www.marchforbabies.org.
**Photos courtesy the March of Dimes.