Colorado Earns Apgar Award for Leadership in Prematurity Campaign
Denver, Colorado, June 05, 2013
Colorado lowered its preterm birth by more than 8 percent since 2009, giving more babies a healthy start in life and earning it the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award. The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent between 2009 and 2014. The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes. Four other states successfully met the challenge this year.
Colorado’s preterm birth rated dropped to 10.3 percent in 2011, down from 11.3 percent in 2009. About 650 fewer babies in Colorado were born too soon, saving an estimated $33.5 million. Colorado’s preterm birth rate dropped nearly 8.8 percent between 2009 and 2011.
“This award is a reflection of the effort and dedication of health care providers of maternal and newborn care, our incredible volunteer partners and health care organizations throughout our state,” says Kathryn Marshall, state director of the March of Dimes Colorado chapter. “It also reinforces that the work we are doing here in Colorado is having a direct, monumental impact on the lives of babies and their families in our community while saving tens of millions of dollars in healthcare costs for our state.”
“We congratulate Colorado on the work they have done to help babies,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
“This progress shows that when infant health becomes a leadership priority, significant progress is possible and families and babies benefit,” says Dr. Paul E. Jarris, executive director of ASTHO.
In Colorado, state health officials are working closely with March of Dimes staff and volunteers including the Colorado Hospital Association, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” educational campaign, which urges hospitals, health care providers, and patients to follow the ACOG guidelines that if a pregnancy is healthy, to wait for labor to begin on its own. The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing.
The March of Dimes says that if every state met the 8 percent challenge, it would push the nation’s preterm birth rate down to about 11 percent, giving an estimated 40,000 more babies a healthy start in life. Such a change could save about $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs.
Preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.
About the March of Dimes
In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, 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.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Information on Colorado activities and programs may be found at marchofdimes.com/colorado.
Sara Walla, Director of Communications
March of Dimes Colorado Chapter