Connecticut Earns March of Dimes FDR and Apgar Awards

| Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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Leigh-Anne Lefurge, March of Dimes, (860) 815-9353, llefurge@marchofdimes.org

Meets March of Dimes Preterm Birth Goals, Reducing Rates to 9.6 Percent or Lower

Glastonbury, CT, September 30, 2015 —

Connecticut has met March of Dimes goals to reduce the preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent or lower, allowing more babies to avoid an early birth and get a healthy start in life, it was announced today.

Because Connecticut’s preterm birth rate dropped to 9.4 percent in 2014, it will receive the March of Dimes Franklin Delano Roosevelt Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award.  Connecticut also lowered its preterm birth by at least 8 percent since 2009, earning it the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award is presented in recognition of the commitment, leadership and collaboration that results in achieving the March of Dimes 2020 preterm birth rate goal.  The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates at least 8 percent between 2009 and 2014. The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes.

Preterm birth is the number one killer of babies.  Babies who survive an early birth often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities. Even infants born just a few weeks early have a greater risk of respiratory distress syndrome, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain development than full-term babies. Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine.

“These awards reflect the significant progress Connecticut is making to reduce pre-term and low weight births,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “While more work needs to be done to address the racial and ethnic disparities in infant health, Connecticut is on the right path towards ensuring that all babies have the best possible chance for a healthy life.”

“We congratulate Connecticut on the work they have done to help babies,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “We know we have still have work to do, but Connecticut’s progress is encouraging and we know because of efforts such as theirs one day every baby will get a healthy start in life.”

“This progress shows that when infant health becomes a leadership priority, significant progress is possible and families and babies benefit,” says Dr. Paul E. Jarris, executive director of Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

The Connecticut Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Coalition, a collaborative established by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter, and over 100 members representing all aspects of maternal and child health, recently developed the Connecticut Plan to Improve Birth Outcomes. This plan examines modifiable risk factors for preterm births, low birth weight, infant mortality, and associated racial/ethnic health disparities. The strategies outlined in the plan will serve to reduce perinatal health disparities and improve the health of women and infants across the life course.

The March of Dimes encouraged states to meet its goal through a combination of activities: giving all women of childbearing age access to health care coverage, fully implementing proven interventions to reduce the risk of an early birth, providing smoking cessation programs for pregnant women, encouraging preconception and early prenatal care, progesterone treatments for women who are medically eligible, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments, avoiding elective cesarean sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary. To further accelerate progress, the March of Dimes is raising 75 million to support five Prematurity Research Centers (PRCs) at leading academic centers around the country to discover the underlying causes of preterm birth and its consequences.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.