Archive for the ‘MOD’ Category

March of Dimes remembers helping families during Hurricane Katrina

Friday, August 28th, 2015

A guest post by Capi Landreneau, Director, Mobile Health Care for March of Dimes and former Director of Program Services for the Louisiana Chapter.

Mobile UnitToday, we acknowledge the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm with devastating effects that left many without adequate care in so many ways. In the days immediately following landfall, March of Dimes volunteers and staff members were on the ground supporting families, mothers and infants.

We visited shelters in search of pregnant women and mothers in need, we convened community partners to see how we could work together in such a difficult time, we communicated with the national office advising them of the day to day needs and changes in the landscape from safety, to transportation to food shortages. Other staff traveled from New York to Louisiana to assist and slept on the floors of local staff member’s homes, in some cases having never met before.

The outpouring of support from our volunteers around the nation was incredible. Volunteers around the country gathered in groups and assembled care kits for new moms that were evacuated from hospitals. Each kit was personally assembled with comfort items, baby supplies and a handwritten note signed lovingly by a mom from another state — not a friend or family member, but a stranger who just wanted to provide comfort and care in a time when so many felt helpless.

The Louisiana March of Dimes office was literally taken over by donations and hurricane relief work. We had never done anything like that before but we also had never experienced an event like Hurricane Katrina. We distributed donated diapers and formula, we helped families with infants find shelter in places suitable for young families.

General shelters weren’t appropriate for small children running around and women’s shelters didn’t allow husbands. I remember well one family that had twin infants that couldn’t have been more than a month old. They were born prematurely and I remember our concern for their still fragile immune systems in a large shelter. We pooled contacts and several entities came together to support a family specific shelter. I will never forget the look on the mother’s face when we brought her to the shelter that was safe for her toddler to run around, safe for her preemie twins and also allowed her husband to remain with the family. It was only one family on that day, but it felt like we changed the world.

We have a very specific mission – moms and babies. A hospital or other agency would call and we would be tasked to brainstorm options, identify placement for women with infants and/or fill needs that no other agency was addressing. At that time there were no preparations for infants in a massive shelter where water wasn’t safe or abundant. We rallied the volunteers and arranged for single serve (no fridge for storage), ready to feed (no water), disposable (no place to sanitize) formula. We aided hundreds of infants and pregnant women and their families.

As weeks passed and recovery work continued, March of Dimes received a call directly from one of our longtime supporters in New Orleans, who expressed a clear need for “bricks and mortar.” Providers were ready but locations for provision of services were scarce due to the devastation and flooding throughout the area.

March of Dimes established The Hurricane Assistance Fund and raised over $5 million to support recovery efforts. The funding allowed for the design and purchase of four vehicles tailored specifically for provision of care of women and infants along with operational funding for several years.

In September of 2006, the first Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center was launched. The mobile health clinic was equipped to provide full prenatal care onsite without any need for land based support. It served moms and babies in New Orleans during the difficult years following the devastation incurred after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The mobile clinic relocated regularly in the years following launch as areas began to revive and residents returned to their homes. This allowed the health center to go where the women were in greatest need.

Our second program launched on the Mississippi gulf coast. Serving moms and babies was critical as providers returned to flooded clinics and buildings swept off their foundations by storm surge. The Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center partnered with K-mart, one of our long standing supporters, to provide access to care in their store parking lots. Two additional locations were launched in Louisiana, Lake Charles and a second program in New Orleans to meet the increasing need as residents returned to the city. Since the program was launched, Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers has provided over 35,000 care encounters to women and infants in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Like so many people living in or touched by Louisiana, I have many emotions today, but what I will focus on will be the incredible outpouring of love and support that we received from strangers all committed to a common cause – healthy moms and babies. I’ll verbalize once again the joy, pride and satisfaction that I feel each time I am reminded that I work for an organization that did what needed to be done in such an outstanding way with such amazing and selfless staff and volunteers. I’m so glad I have the privilege of working for March of Dimes for 11 years, the last 9 of which I’ve spent working with the Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers. They are a wonderful legacy of March of Dimes’ commitment to support Louisiana and Mississippi in their recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

Thank you, March of Dimes and thank you volunteers — YOU made a difference then and you continue to make a difference NOW. On behalf of Louisiana mothers and infants – we are forever grateful for your generosity and care.IMG_7274

A woman’s microbiome may influence her chance of giving birth early

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

research_birthdefectsresearch_rdax_50Last week, the March of Dimes announced that investigators from the Stanford Prematurity Research Center published an important study which may help to better understand some of the factors that may play a role in premature birth.

Researchers at Stanford have been looking into how the microbiomes of women who deliver babies early are different from those who have full-term births. The microbiome is a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria) in the body. Differences in the microbiomes of individuals may help explain why some women give birth early. Microbiome differences may also explain other health issues, such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

Weekly samples were taken of the bacteria from the teeth, gums, saliva, reproductive tract, and stool from 49 pregnant women. Scientists found little change in the bacterial communities in each woman, week to week at each location. But they did find that microbial communities in the reproductive tracts of women who delivered their babies too soon were different from those of women who delivered full term. Those differences were identified early in the pregnancies and continued throughout the pregnancies.

“These findings may help us screen women and identify and predict those who are more likely to have a baby born too soon,” said David Relman, MD, a professor of microbiology, immunology, and of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the lead investigator for the research center on this project.

The researchers also found that the women’s microbiomes changed immediately after they delivered their babies, and did not revert back to pre-pregnancy patterns in some cases until at least a year later. “This might explain why women with closely spaced pregnancies have a higher risk of preterm birth,” said Dr. Relman.

The March of Dimes currently has five prematurity research centers. These unique, transdisciplinary centers bring together scientists from many diverse disciplines — geneticists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, engineers, computer scientists, and others — to work together to find answers to prevent premature birth.

Questions? Text or email them to

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 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.