Archive for the ‘MOD’ Category

Our fifth prematurity research center has launched!

Monday, June 15th, 2015

AA010686The new collaborative, which launched earlier this month includes the University of Chicago, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Duke University School of Medicine. The researchers will work to identify genes that help to make sure a woman has a full-term pregnancy. They are also looking at how stress, including how a woman’s lifelong exposure to discrimination or poverty, may influence those genes.

The March of Dimes has invested a total of $75 million over 10 years towards five research centers. Each center will focus on different aspects of the causes of preterm birth in the hopes of preventing women from going into labor too early. Babies born too early can face serious long-term health problems.

Our first center opened at Stanford University School of Medicine in California in 2011, followed by the Ohio Collaborative, a partnership of universities in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, which launched in 2013. In November of last year we launched our third and fourth centers at Washington University, St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri and at the University of Pennsylvania respectively.

All five of our prematurity research centers will work together and share findings to determine the cause of preterm birth so that more babies can have a healthy start. Learn more about our newest research collaborative here.

Celebrating Virginia Apgar

Friday, June 5th, 2015

virginia_apgarHave you heard of the APGAR score? It is the very first test given to your baby. The APGAR score was developed by Dr. Virginia Apgar, an obstetrical anesthesiologist, in 1952. It is still used all over the world to quickly evaluate a baby after birth. Dr. Apgar is also a pivotal figure in the history of the March of Dimes. She served as the first Medical Director and she helped to redirect the March of Dimes mission from polio to birth defects and other infant health problems, including premature birth.

What is the APGAR score?

The APGAR score is designed to check your baby’s condition at 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth. Your baby is checked for five things:
A – Appearance; skin color
P – Pulse rate
G – Grimace; reflex (measured by placing a bulb syringe in the baby’s nose and seeing the response)
A – Activity; muscle tone
R – Respiration

Each category is given a score ranging from 0-2. The numbers are then added up for a final score. Babies who receive an APGAR score of 7 or more probably have come through delivery fine and are in good condition. A score of less than 7 quickly indicates whether the newborn needs special observation or, perhaps, medical attention to address or prevent a more serious problem. The baby can be referred to the appropriate specialist within moments of birth. The swift medical attention may be a lifesaver.

While the APGAR score is an accurate and very helpful tool for medical personnel it cannot predict how healthy your baby will be in the future. It simply evaluates how your baby is responding after the birth process and if he may need some additional assistance as he adapts to his new environment.

The strength of the APGAR score is its simplicity. While the score has been refined over the past 60 years, it has rarely been improved.

Dr. Apgar and the March of Dimes

Dr. Apgar joined the March of Dimes in 1959. After a severe epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964 and 1965 that resulted in thousands of birth defects and fetal deaths, she initiated March of Dimes programs to promote rubella immunization. She also promoted the effective use of Rh immune globulin in pregnant women to prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn due to Rh incompatibility.

In 1972, Dr. Apgar helped to convene the first Committee on Perinatal Health. A joint effort of the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the March of Dimes, this committee developed a plan to improve maternal-fetal health and reduce infant mortality. In 1976, the committee produced the landmark study, Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy, which set forth a model for the regionalization of perinatal care in the United States.

June 7th is Dr. Apgar’s birthday. Dr. Apgar is remembered as a caring, enthusiastic teacher, colleague, and physician. Her enduring legacy still influences the mission of the March of Dimes today and her accomplishments continue to improve the health of babies all over the world.

We can’t do it without you

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Salk newspaperVolunteers have always been an invaluable part of the March of Dimes. From the very earliest days, volunteers have been full partners in the March of Dimes, working to raise funds, heighten awareness and implement critical programs to help support our mission.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to help him find a cure for polio by contributing dimes for the cause and sending them directly to the White House. Within weeks, over 80,000 letters with dimes and dollars flooded the White House mailroom to the extent that official correspondence to the President was literally buried in an avalanche of donations, a total of 2,680,000 dimes or $268,000.

With the funds raised through this annual campaign, the March of Dimes financed much of the research that led to the development of the polio vaccine.  The March of Dimes then organized a massive field trial to prove its effectiveness in the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in the history of the United States. And 60 years ago, on April 12, 1955 Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” This was a major milestone in the fight against polio.

Over the next few weeks March for Babies events will take place across the country. Approximately 3 million people will join their family, friends and colleagues in nearly 700 communities. These volunteers will walk to give hope to nearly half a million babies born too soon each year. The money raised supports programs in local communities that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. We’ve been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies.

This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take this moment to thank everyone who has contributed to help us achieve our goals. The efforts of our friends and volunteers are what make this organization strong. We are resolved to push even harder for research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.

To all of our volunteers past and present, from polio to prematurity, we offer our most sincere thanks.

Get your piece of March of Dimes history

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

2015 MOD Commemorative CoinThe 2015 March of Dimes commemorative coin is here!

This silver dollar coin blends the March of Dimes’ past, present and future and is minted in honor of 75 years of groundbreaking discoveries and innovative programs that continue to improve the lives of families and babies. On one side of the coin is the March of Dimes founder, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, along with scientist Dr. Jonas Salk. In 1938 President FDR founded the March of Dimes to fight Polio. He called on every American to give, even if it was just a dime, to wipe out this terrible disease. Those dimes led to Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. The vaccine was declared safe, effective and potent in 1955, ending the epidemic and protecting babies ever since.

On the other side of the coin is an image of a baby being cuddled in the hand of its parent, which is symbolic of the March of Dimes’ dedication to the health of babies everywhere

The silver dollar coin was authorized by an act of Congress thanks to the efforts of March of Dimes volunteers and members of Congress.

The March of Dimes is authorized to receive $10 from each silver dollar sold to help finance research, education and services aimed at improving the health of women, infants, and children. Only 500,000 silver dollars commemorating the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes can be produced.

The coin is on sale now and will only be available in 2015. Introductory pricing is available until April 15 so don’t delay. We encourage you to share the news of this historic coin so you can own a piece of history and the March of Dimes can continue to help all babies.

For more info, visit here.

Image of Jonas Salk used with permission of the family of Jonas Salk.

March 3rd is the first ever World Birth Defects Day

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

WBDD_LogoFamilies frequently write to the March of Dimes and share a story about their child’s struggle with a birth defect. Often, they ask what else they can do to help raise awareness. Well, here is a great way to get involved.

Help us mark the first World Birth Defects Day by participating in social media activities and sharing a story about the impact of birth defects on you and your family.

The March of Dimes and 11 other international organizations, including the CDC and the WHO, have created the first-ever World Birth Defects Day on March 3rd. We hope to raise awareness of this serious global problem and advocate for more prevention, care and research to help babies and children.

Birth defects affect 1 in 33 infants worldwide. Half of these birth defects will be detected soon after birth; the other half will be diagnosed during the first year of life. Birth defects are a major cause of death in infants and young children. Babies who survive are at an increased risk for life-long disabilities.

We need you.

On March 3rd, share your story about the impact of birth defects on you, your child or someone you know. With our partners, we’ll be urging governments, non-governmental organizations, policymakers, researchers, and health care providers around the world to help us work together toward a healthier future for children.

What can you do?

1.  Post an announcement on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platform.

2.  Register to be a part of the World Birth Defects Day Thunderclap. A message will be sent out at 9:00 a.m. EST on March 3 to help raise awareness.

3.  Join the Buzzday on Twitter on March 3rd. Plan to send one or more messages using the #WorldBDDay tag at some point during the day. Retweet both promotional and day-of messages to build our buzz for the day.

We look forward to having you join the conversation. Together, we can make strides to improve knowledge and raise awareness.

For more information, email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

Baby’s genes may play a role in some premature births

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

MOD scienceSome babies seem to have a genetic predisposition to a higher risk of being born too soon. Changes in the baby’s DNA – not the mother’s – may be what triggers some early births.

In an exciting new study, researchers analyzed the number of copies of certain genes in the blood or saliva from hundreds of babies and their mothers. A gene is a part of your body’s cells that stores instructions for the way your body grows and works. What the scientists found may be somewhat surprising.  There was no link between the number of copies of the mother’s genes and the chances of a preterm baby. However, there was a two- to eleven-fold increase in premature births before 34 weeks of pregnancy when any of four genes were duplicated or seven genes were deleted in the babies born preterm, when compared to babies born full-term.

The researchers think that the differences in the number of copies of the genes may not be causing a preterm birth, but they may put a baby at a higher risk of infection or reacting to other harmful environmental factors that may trigger early labor and delivery.

“These findings may help explain what triggers early labor in some women even when they’ve done everything right during pregnancy and there’s no obvious cause for an early birth,” explained March of Dimes Chief Medical Officer Edward R. B. McCabe, MD, MPH. “The hope is that this finding may one day lead to a screening test to help identify which babies are at a higher risk of an early birth.”

Stay tuned for upcoming details. We will blog again when we have more information.

Prescription drugs: new FDA labeling rules will help pregnant women

Friday, December 5th, 2014

prescription medsCurrent FDA guidelines about medication safety during pregnancy can be very confusing for women and their health care providers. Soon, however, doctors will have access to more information about the safety of prescription drugs during pregnancy.

When you are pregnant, you try to avoid anything that may harm your baby. But sometimes, you need to take medications for your own health. Managing chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure is very important, especially during pregnancy. But it is often difficult to know what medications are safe. And current FDA safety categories can be very confusing and difficult to understand.

However, in the summer of 2015, drug manufacturers will need to start providing additional details about medication safety in pregnant and breastfeeding women. The new labels will have to state how the safety information was obtained and whether the data was the result of scientific studies in people, or if it was obtained through study of animal models. The manufacturers must also include how much of the drug is excreted in breast milk and whether it affects the nursing baby, as well as how the drug may affect future fertility for both men and women of reproductive age.

These changes in labeling will provide doctors with more information about a medication’s safety during pregnancy. The information will not be on the actual medication bottle. It will be included in the official drug labeling information that doctors use when prescribing medications. It may also be included in the printed materials that pharmacies often include when filling prescriptions. This change in labeling does not apply to over-the-counter medications, though.

The new guidelines will allow doctors and patients to weigh the pros and cons of which medication is best to take during pregnancy for a given condition based on scientific evidence. And it will provide doctors and patients with more safety data than has previously been readily available.

The March of Dimes hails the release of the FDA’s final rule on pregnancy and lactation drug labeling information for prescription drugs. According to Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes the new rules “will drive critical improvement to prescription drug labels regarding known effects on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and fertility.  The rule takes vital steps to improve the organization, readability, and usefulness of this information, which will enable women and their providers to find it and use it more readily….It is important to note, however, that this rule is only a first step, and it does not address other crucial issues related to pregnancy, lactation, and prescription drugs. The March of Dimes looks forward to working with the FDA and other interested stakeholders to ensure that appropriate research is performed and data generated to allow women and their health providers to make fully informed decisions about medication and its expected impact on pregnancy, lactation and childbearing.”

We’re thankful for you

Friday, November 28th, 2014

ESBldg_2014newsdeskHere at News Moms Need, we’re grateful for so many things this year–especially all of you. Thanks so much to all of you who helped us make this year’s Prematurity Awareness Month such a success. Many of you shared your stories with us and others so that everyone could have a better understanding of how premature birth affects us all. We’re very grateful for your energy and support.

To all of you and your families, our thanks and best wishes. And make sure to check out our Facebook page to see images of how World Prematurity Day was celebrated around the globe.

What grade did your state receive?

Friday, November 7th, 2014

2014 report card map

This year we have some great news to report: the national premature 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 though, the U.S. still received a “C” on the 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card because it fell short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target.

“Achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal is reason for celebration, but the U.S. still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high resource country and we must change that,” said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “We are investing in a network of five prematurity research centers to find solutions to this still too-common, costly, and serious problem.”

The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card compares each state’s premature birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020. On the 2014 Report Card, 27 states and Puerto Rico saw their premature birth rates improve between 2012 and 2013, earning better grades for five of them: Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma. Five states earned an “A,” including California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. Twenty states earned a “B,” 20 states received a “C,” two states and the District of Columbia got a “D,” and only three states and Puerto Rico, received an “F” on the Report Card. Click here to see how your state your did.

The Report Card also tracks states’ progress toward lowering their premature birth rates by following three principle risk reduction strategies:
• 30 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of uninsured women of childbearing age;
• 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;
• 30 states and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate, babies born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face serious and sometimes lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss, and cerebral palsy. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.

The March of Dimes is also calling for a nationwide effort to reduce U.S. premature births to 5.5 percent of all live births by 2030.  Seven other developed countries already have premature birth rates below 6 percent, and 15 have rates below 7 percent.  The U.S. rate of 11.4 percent in 2013 is one of the highest.  The U.S. ranked 37th out of 39 high resource countries in 2010.

“The United States spends more money per capita on health care than almost any other country in the world, and yet our premature birth rate and our infant mortality rate are among the highest.” says Dr. Howse.  “The U.S. should aspire to be among the best globally in preterm birth rates and give all our children a healthy beginning.”

Celebrating Jonas Salk, MD

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Jonas SalkTomorrow is Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday. Salk’s eldest son Peter Salk, MD, recently came to the March of Dimes National Office to speak about his father and The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation. It was touching to hear the history and personal stories about Salk.

Peter recounted how his father had initially thought he would become a lawyer or congressman. But college chemistry set him in a new direction. While attending NYU Medical School, a microbiology class inspired him to begin his quest in vaccine research. Before long, he became one of the most famous researchers of the 20th century.

Jonas Salk, MD. was intrigued by the idea of creating a vaccine from inactivated versions of a virus. He first worked on an inactivated flu vaccine but he is most remembered for his pioneering work in creating a polio vaccine in the midst of the polio epidemic.

Basil O’Connor, President of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes) was intrigued by Salk’s research and decided to fund Salk’s efforts to develop the vaccine against infantile paralysis, also known as polio. In 1955, it was announced that the Salk vaccine was safe and effective against this disabling, sometimes fatal infection. Salk’s vaccine rapidly reduced polio infections by 97%. With the help of the Salk vaccine and later the Sabin oral vaccine, both developed with March of Dimes funding, polio infections have been eliminated from the United States for nearly 3 decades. Polio still occurs, however, in some developing countries.

Salk vaccineIn addition to being a preeminent physician and researcher, Salk had a philosophical side. One question Salk would ask is “Are we being good ancestors?”  It was the foundation on which he based his life, and his unending quest to help improve mankind. Peter ended the presentation with one of Jonas’ quotes: “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas believed each person was responsible for making a difference in the world. By eradicating polio in the United States, Jonas Salk fulfilled his own dream.

You can learn more about Jonas Salk’s life and contributions by watching this historical footage reel.

The March of Dimes remembers, honors and celebrates Jonas Salk’s accomplishments as we continue our mission to improve the health of babies.