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NH AWHONN Newsletter
November is Prematurity Awareness Month

Spread the word about the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign

Prematurity has been escalating steadily and alarmingly over the past two decades. Between 1981 and 2003, the rate of premature births rose from 9.4 percent to 12.3, an increase of almost 31 percent. Every year nearly 500,000 infants are born prematurely. That's roughly comparable to the population of Cleveland.

Preterm delivery can happen to any pregnant woman. It's happening more and more often. And, in nearly half the cases, no one knows why.

The March of Dimes is taking on this devastating problem, to find out what causes it and how it can be stopped.

About the Prematurity Campaign

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign is a multimillion-dollar research, awareness and education campaign to help families have healthier babies. The campaign includes:

  • Funding research to find the causes of premature birth.
  • Educating women about the risk reduction strategies, including the signs and symptoms of premature labor.
  • Providing support to families affected by prematurity.
  • Expanding access to health care coverage so that more women can get prenatal care.
  • Helping health care providers learn ways to help reduce the risk of early delivery.
  • Advocating for access to insurance to improve maternity care and infant health outcomes.

National Research Agenda on Prematurity

The March of Dimes is investing millions in research and education and awareness programs to find the causes of premature birth, and to develop ways to save babies from being born too soon. The campaign is also advocating for a 5-year funding increase of $50 million to support prematurity-related research being conducted under the aegis of the National Institutes of Health.

Our Scientific Advisory Committee on Prematurity identified four key components of an effective national research agenda:

  • Understanding the biological factors that trigger preterm labor and premature rupture of the membranes (when the sac that holds the baby inside the uterus breaks too soon).
  • Supporting clinical trials to prevent preterm labor and delivery, and reduce risk through approaches such as: screening for and treating infections; counseling on optimal weight and good nutrition; assisting with smoking cessation; and helping with stress management.
  • Improving treatment and outcomes for babies born prematurely.
  • Funding interdisciplinary research to find out why some populations, such as African-American women and women who have multiple births due to assisted reproductive techniques (ART), have significantly higher rates of premature birth.

Why Prematurity

Prematurity is a silent crisis in America. Every year more than 500,000 infants are born prematurely, and prematurity is on the rise. It now affects one out of every eight babies born in the United States.

Prematurity takes a severe toll on America's families and strains our health care system. Each year, 100,000 children develop health problems because of their early births. And prematurity is the leading cause of death in the first month.

Why the March of Dimes

For over 65 years, the March of Dimes has been saving America's children. It was founded in 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to defeat polio, a dreaded disease that claimed the lives and limbs of America's children in record numbers. Within 17 years, the Salk vaccine was developed and polio was defeated.

The March of Dimes then turned its attention to an even greater challenge-fighting birth defects and other infant health problems. Over the past four decades, our lifesaving research, innovative programs, and dedicated volunteers have saved millions of babies from death and disability. With a track record of success in bringing people together to solve complex health challenges, the March of Dimes is uniquely qualified to take on the problem of prematurity.
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