Celine Dion Lends Her Support To Families Affected By Premature Birth

October 11, 2012

A new global television message from Celine Dion calls on families to use social media to connect with each other and ask governments take action to prevent premature births and save babies’ lives. The campaign is a joint effort of the March of Dimes, the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Save the Children and the World Health Organization.

“I share the fears and concerns of all parents knowing that more than one million babies around the world die every year because they didn’t get enough time to grow,” Ms. Dion says in English and French versions of the video. The video message can be viewed on youtube.com/watch?v=SjcV_1QQPmQ.

The message directs viewers to facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay, where they can write about and post a picture of their child, family member or friend whose child was born too soon. A world map will light up each individual’s posting and allow them to connect and support each other from anywhere in the world.

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. According to a May 2012 report Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, 75 percent of these deaths could be prevented through low-cost interventions, such as skin-to-skin “Kangaroo Mother Care” and wider availability of antenatal steroids to help premature babies’ lungs develop.

“There is hope,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “We know much about how to save babies’ lives. Now, we are calling on governments, the private sector, businesses, health officials and community leaders to implement these interventions, and do more to prevent prematurity.”

On November 17th, partners from around the world will mark the second World Prematurity Day in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The World Prematurity Network (WPN) including, Bliss, United Kingdom, European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, throughout Europe, Home for Premature Babies, China, Little Big Souls International Foundation, Africa, National Premmie Foundation, Australia, hope to harness the power of the Facebook story campaign to encourage governments to give top priority to reducing preterm birth. The WPN includes consumer and parent groups that are leaders in addressing preterm birth in their countries. Together, members call for actions to prevent preterm birth and improve care for babies born preterm.

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.

About The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, pmnch.org, joins the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health communities into an alliance of more than 460 members to ensure that all women, infants and children not only remain healthy, but thrive. Our members come from seven constituencies working together to advance knowledge, advocacy and results for women and children: government, UN and multilateral agencies, donors and foundations, the private sector, health care professional associations, non-governmental organizations, and academic and training institutions.

About Save the Children
Save the Children, savethechildren.org, is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, works in partnership with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to reduce newborn mortality and improve newborn health, hosting healthynewbornnetwork.org.

About World Health Organization
The World Health Organization, who.int, is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.