Every year, more than half a million babies are born too soon in the United States. Our country’s premature birth rate has risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years. That’s serious cause for concern.
Premature birth costs society 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 number 1 killer of newborns.
In 2003, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign to address the crisis and help families have full-term, healthy babies. We’re funding lifesaving research and speaking out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies. Worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely each year. In 2008, we expanded the campaign globally.
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® (HBWW) is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preventable preterm birth, with a focus on reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. HBWW involves an education and awareness campaign, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs. These strategies are focused on interventions and activities that have the potential to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month® and when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. The awareness month kicks off on November 1 with the release of the 2011 Premature Birth Report Card. November 17 marks World Prematurity Day, and the March of Dimes and our partner organizations worldwide are asking everyone to help spread the world on the serious problem of premature birth.
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.
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.
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.