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March of Dimes: Expectant moms and their babies to benefit from new project

by jmaloni

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Tue, Nov 18th 2014 04:05 pm
Local partners from Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Sisters of Charity Hospital and Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo all team up with March of Dimes for new `Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait` program.
Local partners from Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Sisters of Charity Hospital and Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo all team up with March of Dimes for new "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" program.

March of Dimes partners with Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Sisters of Charity Hospital and Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo

The March of Dimes today announced a partnership with Catholic Health's Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and Sisters of Charity Hospital, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Kaleida Health's Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, the Erie County Department of Health, the Niagara County Department of Health and the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York to implement the "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" program.

The project provides education for pregnant women, perinatal providers and the community on the problem of preterm birth, risk factors and strategies for reducing risk. In addition, "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" provides a supportive structure for implementing bundled, evidence-based preterm birth prevention interventions.

"Preparing for a new baby is a time of great excitement," said Aimee Gomlak, vice president of "WomenCare" at Catholic Health. "Families don't expect anything to go wrong, but in about one in nine births, babies are born too soon. 'Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait' aims to help eliminate preventable preterm births by combining clinical, education and community efforts."

"Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" is a component of the March of Dimes prematurity campaign, a nationwide effort to address the growing problem of premature birth, which is the leading cause of newborn death and a major cause of serious health problems. The March of Dimes also is funding research to find the causes of premature birth.

The announcement fittingly comes on the fourth "World Prematurity Day," and on the heels of the March of Dimes recent premature birth report card. Though there has been a seven-year improving trend in New York's preterm birth rate, that has helped give more babies a healthy start in life and contributed to the improvement in the national rate, New York's preterm birth rate was 10.7 percent in 2013. This is down from 12.4 in 2006, the year the rates peaked, but still earned New York a "B" on the report card.

The national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 - the lowest in 17 years - meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress, the nation still received a "C" on the annual report card, and still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country.

"Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo is thrilled to partner with March of Dimes because of their reputation for excellence and the resources and education they provide to moms and babies," said Allegra Jaros, president. "March of Dimes does incredible work every day to improve the health of moms and babies. And they educate the community at large about the problem of prematurity, a problem that many call our nation's silent health crisis."

In 2007, "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" began as a demonstration project of the March of Dimes in Kentucky. The success of that project from 2007-present brought about the foundation's decision to make "HBWW" a signature program in 2010, when it was rolled out to two new states (Texas and New Jersey). March of Dimes ultimately hopes to bring the program to needy communities across the country. There are now more than 27 of the sites nationwide, with nine sites in Kentucky, five in Texas, two in New Jersey, and seven sites in Kansas.

"Partnerships with state and local health departments, our hospital partners and health care providers, are a testament to how focused and effective policies, strong leadership and clinician commitment have led to improvements in obstetric and newborn outcomes in a problem as complex and seemingly intractable as preterm delivery," said Christopher Glantz, M.D., professor of OB/GYN and public health sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Strong Memorial Hospital and March of Dimes volunteer spokesperson. "Through the March of Dimes unique, team-based research and implementation projects, including decreasing the number of elective deliveries before 39 weeks, we will continue the important work of preventing preterm birth, so more babies will get a healthy start in life." 

Premature birth, birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is a health problem that costs the U.S. more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are important to a baby's health, because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

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