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 declined by 11 percent over the last 7 years. However, the U.S. preterm birth rate remains too high at 11.4 percent, which is higher than that of most developed nations.
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.
The Prematurity Campaign
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, 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. In 2008, we expanded the campaign globally.
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® 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. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait 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.
Prematurity Awareness Month
November is Prematurity Awareness Month® and when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. The awareness month kicks off with the release of the 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 word on the serious problem of premature birth.
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.