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Prematurity Campaign

  • Premature birth is the #1 killer of children under 5
  • The U.S. rate is high among the industrialized countries
  • We’re funding research to find answers and preventions
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The serious problem of premature birth

Every year, about 450,000 babies are born too soon in the United States. After rising by 36 percent over 25 years (1981-2006), our country's preterm birth rate has been steadily declining. However, at 11.4 percent it remains higher than that of most developed nations. Our goal is to reduce the United States rate of preterm birth to 5.5 percent by 2030.

Premature birth costs our country more than $26 billion a year and takes a high toll on families. Babies born just a few weeks early are at risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities. Premature birth is the leading cause of death of children under 5.

The Prematurity Campaign

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, has stimulated widespread action and attention around the problem of premature birth. Over the course of the Campaign, we have set ambitious goals for reducing the number of babies born prematurely and have rallied others to join us. Together, we speak out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies. Through our annual Premature Birth Report Card we demonstrate our progress and focus the nation’s attention on the serious problem and the work ahead.

A multimillion-dollar research investment

In most cases, the cause of a premature birth is unknown. Premature birth can happen to any woman, even if she has no risk factors. That’s why the March of Dimes has established a network of five Prematurity Research Centers where the brightest minds from many different disciplines work together to uncover the causes of premature birth and develop new ways to prevent it.

Preventing premature birth

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preterm birth by improving the quality of care that women receive during pregnancy.  We’re helping pregnant woman and health professionals understand that if a pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait until at least 39 completed weeks of pregnancy before scheduling a delivery.

World Prematurity Day

Each year on November 17, the March of Dimes and people in countries around the world mark World Prematurity Day and ask everyone to help spread the word about the serious problem of premature birth. The day has grown to include millions of people in more than 100 countries. The World Prematurity Network is made up of groups of parents in many countries who work year round to advance advocacy initiatives, hold events and support families. 


Worldwide health problem

15 million babies are born too soon every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Campaign work to achieve its goals?

The campaign funds research to find the causes of premature birth, and to identify and test promising interventions; educates health care providers and women about risk-reduction strategies; advocates to expand access to health care coverage to improve maternity care and infant health outcomes; provides information and emotional support to families affected by prematurity; and generates concern and action around the problem.

What are the goals of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign?

The goals of the Prematurity Campaign are to reduce the rate of premature birth, and to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the problem.

Why is the problem of prematurity so important?

Prematurity is the leading killer of America's newborns. Those who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.

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