I feel this fundraiser, though it is one of many and has been running for quite a long time, it an important one.
The reason I think the March of Dimes is an important initiative is because as a doula, a future public health worker, and an anthropologist, too many babies are being born prematurely (as the MoD phrases it "too soon, too small"). The March of Dimes raises money so that moms will have healthy full-term pregnancies.
"Our country has one of the highest rates of pre-term birth in the world" - U.S. Surgeon General
From the MoD website:
Prematurity has been escalating steadily and alarmingly over the past two decades. In 2006, nearly 543,000 infants were born prematurely. In 2005, the United States as a society paid at least $26.2 billion in economic costs associated with preterm birth (medical and educational expenses, loss in productivity).
Preterm birth is a complex disorder, like heart disease or diabetes, with no single cause. Consequently, it requires a multifaceted approach. The six priority areas are:
- New epidemiologic studies focused on the risk of extremely preterm births to identify the factors that predispose women to very early labor and delivery.
- Genes and their interaction with the environment that, together, lead to preterm birth.
- Racial and ethnic differences. While prematurity affects all socioeconomic groups, there are significant racial and ethnic disparities. For example, in 2006, non-Hispanic African-Americans had the highest rate of premature births at 18.5 percent, well above the national rate of 12.8 percent. We know very little about why these differences occur.
- The roles of infection and immune response to those infections.
- The effects of stress on the mother and fetus.
- Clinical trials to assess the impact of potential treatments, to identify the women who could most benefit, and to determine the best time to provide treatment during pregnancy.
The Prematurity Campaign investigates the causes of prematurity and ways to prevent prematurity.
The part of the campaign that interests me the most is their initiative to stop hospitals and doctors from ordering/performing inductions/c-sections prior to 39 weeks if not medically indicated. They propose that the phrase “late preterm” be used when describing neonates born between 37 and 39 weeks. Their initiative is working at hospital, health system and statewide levels. Past and current initiatives have been shown to be create effective change.
The campaign also focuses on educating mothers that a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks for a reason. To read about why, see my post Baby is NOT Term at 37 Weeks.
The March of Dimes money does not only go to prevent prematurity - it is only one of their campaigns. They have this great page where you can check out how the fundraiser helps babies in all ways here: http://www.marchforbabies.org/howyouhelpbabies.aspx
"Remember, 40 weeks is a full-term pregnancy" - U.S. Surgeon General