An international research initiative
In 2018 we extended our network of Prematurity Research Centers to six by welcoming the Imperial College London as our first European center. The expertise of Imperial College London in the area of glycobiology is unmatched by any other institution and is complementary to our other research—all centers are working together to find the causes of prematurity and develop lifesaving solutions.
Leveraging data for lifesaving solutions
We’re working to level the playing field so that all moms and babies are healthy. The new Database for Preterm Birth Research, led by Marina Sirota, PhD, and Atul Butte, MD, PhD, from the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at UCSF as part of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford, enables our team to work together more efficiently to do just that. The database integrates the work of researchers and clinicians from a broad range of disciplines at all six March of Dimes research centers and also is an open-access site. This allows outside researchers from anywhere in the world to join us and accelerate discoveries and advance research for all moms and babies.
Researchers developed a blood test that may predict premature birth
Scientists developed a new blood test using biomarkers in maternal blood that accurately identified (75 to 80 percent) pregnant women who would go on to deliver babies up to two months prematurely. This finding is vital as doctors currently do not have a consistent, reliable way to accurately assess which pregnancies will result in a premature birth. Using the same maternal blood samples, the team also found biomarkers that predicted gestational age during pregnancy with comparable to accuracy to ultrasound. The studies were led by Stephen Quake, Ph.D., an investigator at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University. Partners included scientists in Denmark and Alabama as well as the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
A renewed commitment to helping moms and babies with tools and technology
March of Dimes was among a pilot group of organizations offering a digital, one-to-one mentoring service through Facebook’s platform. The Facebook Mentorship program connects a newly graduated NICU mom to a mom with a similar NICU experience, teaches balanced self-care and shares advice and content within a trusting mentor-mentee relationship.
New technology, like our My NICU Baby™ App, provides trusted information to improve families’ experiences during a stressful time. It helps families find peace of mind during and after their NICU stay with answers to questions and helpful resources. The App is free and available in the App Store and Google Play now.
New this year, March of Dimes created a Wall of Remembrance for parents and loved ones living with loss. Family members can post their stories and find inspiration from others doing the same. This safe and honest space for families to honor little ones lost is another way March of Dimes is supporting its community.
Accountability and collective impact to drive improvements in preterm birth rates
Through the March of Dimes Prematurity Collaborative, 340 organizations and over 600 individuals are working together to achieve equity and demonstrated improvements in preterm birth prevention. At the Prematurity Prevention Summit: Building a Birth Equity Movement in 2018, and through regular committee meetings, thought leaders advanced policy and practice; mobilized community leadership; shared and spread emerging ideas and promising practices; and energized stakeholders to achieve equity and reduce preterm birth.
National campaign urged candidates to fight for moms
This fall March of Dimes launched #BlanketChange, a powerful advocacy campaign designed to cultivate awareness about the urgent health crisis moms and babies face—including increased rates of maternal mortality and preterm birth, and maternity care deserts across the U.S. It inspired advocacy and action as 700 blankets were displayed on the National Mall to represent the 700 women who die from pregnancy-related complications each year. We called upon congressional candidates to commit to fighting for the health of all moms and babies, and it made a difference—in the weeks after the campaign, Congress passed both the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act and the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, two top priorities for #BlanketChange.
Building a brighter future with 19 MOMentum advocates
Gretchen Carlson Advocacy Fellows took part in a year-long program to change public policies across the nation and gain skills to lead others to do the same. The nineteen fellows have a keen interest the policy-making process and how government policies impact the lives of moms and babies. They began their fellowship experience with an exciting three-day event in Washington, D.C. and participated in monthly advocacy trainings via web meetings, educational opportunities, special projects and outreach to policymakers. In 2019, each of the Fellows will lead an advocacy campaign in her state to promote the health of moms and babies.
Every baby deserves the best possible start
March of Dimes is tackling the urgent health crisis facing moms and babies in our country. Our awareness campaign, Won’t Stop, showed the real faces and experiences of pregnancy and birth in this country. We're there for every family, and we won’t stop advocating, searching for answers and supporting all moms and babies in this country.