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March of Dimes - Rhode Island Chapter

220 West Exchange St. #003

Providence, RI  02903

(401) 454-1911

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    Arizona Health Officials Help March of Dimes Reduce the State's Preterm Birth Rate 8% by 2014

    Phoenix, Arizona, June 18, 2012 —

    March of Dimes Arizona Chapter, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Arizona Perinatal Trust together have partnered with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and other states to commit to reducing prematurity and infant mortality. The goal is to reduce Arizona’s preterm birth rate 8 percent by 2014.

    “We proudly accept the challenge to lower our preterm birth rate,” said Will Humble, director of Arizona Department of Health Services. “We know that Arizona’s babies will benefit from our efforts.”

    The challenge, issued by Association of State and Territorial Health Officers President David Lakey, MD, Texas’ commissioner of Health Services and endorsed by the March of Dimes, would lower Arizona’s preterm birth rate to 11.7 percent. According to the most recent March of Dimes Report Card, Arizona’s premature birth rate in 2009 was 12.7 percent. A long-term target of a premature birth rate of 9.6 percent would mean a 24.4 percent reduction in prematurity by 2020.

    “There is no single answer to the problem of premature birth. But accepting this challenge is the first step and we applaud the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Perinatal Trust for taking the initiative to implement proven strategies to address preterm birth,” said Beth Mulcahy, State Director of Program Services and Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes Arizona Chapter. “We know there are steps states can take that will make a difference in the lives of babies -- improving maternal access to health care, lowering maternal smoking rates, and ending early elective deliveries are three areas that can contribute significantly to declined in preterm birth rates.”

    Arizona’s initiative will focus on:

    Continued support and utilization of the March of Dimes 39 Weeks Toolkit from Arizona’s hospitals

    The Arizona Perinatal Trust (APT) is a non-profit organization that utilizes a voluntary process to certify levels of perinatal care at Arizona’s hospitals and birthing facilities.  The APT has worked with member hospitals to eliminate non-medically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks.  With the help of March of Dimes Arizona Chapter, the APT distributed the March of Dimes 39 Weeks Toolkit to each certified hospital (40 of Arizona’s 46 birthing hospitals) in June 2011 and then requested that each hospital develop a written policy of how they will eliminate elective inductions before 39 weeks. These plans are reviewed during site visits. To date, 90 percent of all APT certified hospitals have adopted new policies.  

    Urging Arizona hospitals to adopt the March of Dimes Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit

    March of Dimes California Chapter, in partnership with Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, has created the evidence-based Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit. This toolkit has been endorsed by California District IX of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The objective of the toolkit is to standardize the assessment and diagnosis of preterm labor among health care professionals to allow for:

    1. A uniform diagnosis of preterm labor - which includes the Fetal fibronectin Test
    2. Timely interventions
    3. Proper transport of patients at greatest risk for preterm delivery
    4. A decrease in unnecessary hospitalizations and treatments
    5. Improved allocation of scarce nursing/hospital resources
    6. Increased maternal-fetal safety

    This toolkit provides guidance for the assessment and triage of women with suspected preterm labor, but it does not dictate treatment. March of Dimes urges health care professionals to compare current practices for assessing women with the evidence-based guidelines offered in this toolkit.

    Expansion of awareness of importance of preconception health 

    ADHS and March of Dimes Arizona Chapter together implemented a federal First Time Motherhood grant to increase awareness of preconception health and access to preconception health care. ADHS and March of Dimes Arizona Chapter will continue to fund community-based projects targeting the improvement of preconception health and birth outcomes.

    Activating a consumer awareness campaign entitled “Don’t Rush Your Baby’s Birth Day”

    March of Dimes Arizona Chapter will distribute co-branded “Don’t Rush Your Baby’s Birth Day” public service announcements to all media outlets in Arizona.

    Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and one million babies worldwide die each year as a result of their early birth. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.

    For more information, please contact Terri Spitz at 602-321-7989 or tspitz@marchofdimes.org.

    About March of Dimes
    The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org.  For free access to national, state, county and city-level maternal and infant health data visit marchofdimes.org/peristats.

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