Proceeds benefit the March of Dimes mission
For the babies
“We do it for the babies.” We hear this from March of Dimes volunteers and staff across the country. “We do it for the babies; they are the reason.” The March of Dimes is all about babies – those born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. We have the knowledge and passion to solve problems and answer questions about premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.
So much to do
Nothing is more precious, nothing causes greater expectations than a baby on the way. So much to do, so many decisions…the room, clothes, toys and supplies, the changes in the way of life. The mother watches her body change and bonds to the life within. The father and families think about preparation, finances, how to make it all work. 40 weeks and then the great event occurs. Some say it’s the greatest miracle of all.
But for one of every eight babies, the storyline is broken. One of every eight babies is born too soon. Some of these babies come so early (even at 24 weeks) they require superhuman efforts just to keep them alive. Others require intense care and weeks or months of extra hospital time.
The rate of premature birth – birth before 37 weeks gestation – has risen more the 30 percent since 1981. Here in Alabama, our rates are much higher than the national average – 15.6 percent of births in Alabama were preterm in 2010, compared with the national average of 12.3 percent. Our state scored an F on the March of Dimes 2010 Premature Birth Report Card; we came in 49th out of 50 states.
Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk for lifelong disabilities, including cerebral palsy, lung problems, vision and hearing loss, and a vast spectrum of learning disabilities.
Prematurity is a serious health risk. If the baby comes too early, her family’s dreams and plans come to an abrupt end and their only thoughts are for her survival. Hospital costs skyrocket for a premature birth, averaging $23,000 instead of the more normal $3,000-5,000. For low birth weights, bills exceeding $750,000 are not uncommon.
Thanks to years of March of Dimes funded research, preterm babies have a brighter outlook. Special units called NICUs are available in some hospitals, containing highly specialized, lifesaving equipment. Every ounce of medical knowledge had to be rewritten for such tiny infants. From the tubing and needles used, to the special breathing apparatus and the special “soaps” that keep their lungs open, the March of Dimes research saves babies every week – every day. Yet the goal is to not just save the early babies, but to prevent premature births from occurring in the first place.
Even if your baby was born healthy, the March of Dimes has touched your infant’s life. If your baby received a vaccine to prevent polio; if your baby received a newborn screening – commonly a heel stick – to test for a host of treatable conditions that would cause illness, retardation or death if left untreated; if you took folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent brain and spinal cord birth defects, then the March of Dimes has touched your life.
To achieve its mission, the March of Dimes funds research, community services, develops education and advocacy programs so that one day, every family will know the joy of a healthy baby.
To learn more about the March of Dimes, visit marchofdimes.com.