Posts Tagged ‘prematurity awareness month’

Helping your baby thrive in the NICU

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

This video clip contains great information on nurturing your baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In the video, real NICU parents describe different ways to bond with your baby while in the hospital, including skin-to-skin or kangaroo care.

 

 

For more helpful information about caring for your baby in the NICU, please visit our website. Learn about resources and support that can help you and your family while your baby’s in the NICU. Also, you can go to Share Your Story, the March of Dimes online community for families to share experiences with prematurity, birth defects or loss.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Smoking increases the chance of premature birth

Friday, November 18th, 2016

cigarette-buttsAlthough many people know that smoking during pregnancy can cause problems, 10% of pregnant women reported smoking during the last 3 months of pregnancy. When you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. These chemicals can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. This can slow your baby’s growth before birth and can damage your baby’s heart, lungs and brain.

If you smoke during pregnancy, you’re more likely to have:

If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to:

Secondhand and thirdhand smoke are also bad for your baby’s health. Being around secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born with low birthweight.  Babies who are around secondhand smoke are more likely than babies who aren’t to have health problems, like pneumonia, ear infections and breathing problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and lung problems. There are also at an increased risk of SIDS.

If you quit smoking during pregnancy, you and your baby immediately benefit. According to the CDC, here’s how:

  • Your baby will get more oxygen, even after just one day of not smoking.
  • There is less risk that your baby will be born too early.
  • There is a better chance that your baby will come home from the hospital with you.
  • You will be less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and other smoke-related diseases.
  • You will be more likely to live to know your grandchildren.
  • You will have more energy and breathe more easily.
  • Your clothes, hair, and home will smell better.
  • Your food will taste better.
  • You will have more money that you can spend on other things.
  • You will feel good about what you have done for yourself and your baby.

So make a plan to quit today. Need help? Check out these resources:

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Join in World Prematurity Day activities tomorrow

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Light the world purple

The world will light up purple tomorrow to bring awareness to the problem of preterm birth.

Landmarks all over the world will be ablaze in purple to honor premature babies.

Tomorrow marks the 6th annual World Prematurity Day (WPD).

One in ten babies is born too soon. Premature birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide. Babies born too early may have more health issues than babies born on time, and may face long term health problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision. World Prematurity Day on November 17 raises awareness of this serious health crisis.

In New York City, the Empire State Building will be bathed in purple lights. State Capitol buildings in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Tennessee will light up purple, too.Here are just a few more places where World Prematurity Day will be glowing:

  • Birmingham Zoo, AL;
  • Union Plaza Building (downtown skyline), Little Rock, AR;
  • All 5 river bridges spanning the Arkansas River;
  • Hippodrome Theater, Gainesville, FL;
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH;
  • Howard Hughes Corporation Building, Honolulu, HI;
  • Power & Light Building, Kansas City, MO;
  • Biloxi Lighthouse, MS;
  • Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA;
  • The Auxilio Mutuo Hospital, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.

What can you do?

Share your story and video about babies born too soon here on our blog, as well as on Facebook.

Get decked out in purple tomorrow, take a photo and post it to social media with #worldprematurityday and #givethemtomorrow.

Together, we can honor the 380,000 babies born too soon each year in the U.S.

Together, we can let people know that 15 million babies are born too soon around the world every year, and that 1 million of them won’t live to their first birthday.

Together, we can change the face of premature birth and give every baby a fighting chance.

Please join us tomorrow, to raise your voice.

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Recognizing families who care for preemies

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Preemie on oxygen_smIn addition to November being Prematurity Awareness Month, it’s National Family Caregivers Month. These two themes go together well. Caring for a premature baby can take a huge toll on parents and families. The focus is on the baby (naturally) which can be a round-the-clock roller coaster ride. But, who cares for the parents and other children?

Recently I attended a meeting for parents of special needs children. The common theme that day was coping. Parent after parent talked about the impact that one child can have on an entire family. When medical issues are present, as they are with a preemie, it is understood that everything else stops while you care for and make serious decisions related to your baby. If you have other children, they take a temporary back seat to your sick baby. Everyone pitches in to do what they must do to survive the crisis of a NICU stay.

Once the baby is home, the crisis may seem like it is over, but often it is only the start of a new journey – one with visits to more specialists than you knew existed, appointments for speech, physical,  occupational and/or respiratory therapy, a schedule of home exercises, and navigating the early intervention system. Thankfully, these interventions exist to help your baby, but it is clear that this new schedule can resemble a second full-time job.

If a parent is alone in this process (without a partner), it can be all the more daunting. Without a second set of eyes to read insurance forms, or a second set of hands to change a diaper when you are desperate for a shower, it can feel overwhelming.

What can you do?

This month is a good time to remember to reach out and ask for help. Friends often want to take a bit of the burden off of you, but simply don’t know how they can be helpful. Be specific with them. If you need grocery shopping done, send out a group text to your buddies and ask if anyone could swing by the grocery store to pick up a few items for you.

Try to set aside a couple of hours each week, on a regular basis, when you know you will have a respite. It could mean that your spouse takes care of the baby while you go take a walk or join a friend for coffee. Or, your parent or grandparent could take over for a bit so you and your spouse could watch a movie together. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time – but just knowing it is scheduled gives you something tangible to look forward to, which helps to keep you going and lift your spirits.

In other blog posts, I share ways parents can take the stress off. See this post for a list of survival tips, and this post for how to care for the brothers and sisters of your special needs child. They need special TLC!

Be sure to check out the Caregivers Action Network’s helpful tips for families as well as their useful caregiver toolkit.

If you are like me and have trouble relaxing, see “Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.” It may just inspire you to break the go-go-go-all-the-time pace and find ways to relax. Believe me – once you grab those precious moments to refuel, you will be glad you did. Your body and mind will thank you, and so will your family.

Do you have tips for coping? Please share.

View other posts in our Delays and Disabilities series, and send your questions to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

 

Prematurity 101

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Passing the time while your baby is in the NICUNovember is Prematurity Awareness Month. There are many facts that you probably already know about prematurity, but some that you may not. Here is quick cheat sheet on Prematurity 101. See if you can find the one statement that is false. (Answer is at the bottom – no peeking!)

Premature birth is the #1 cause of newborn death (1st 28 days of life).

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and more than a million die as a result.

Babies who survive a premature birth often have lifelong health problems.

Preemies can suffer from cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, intellectual disabilities and learning problems.

Birth defects is the #1 cause of infant death (1st year of life).

We only understand about half of all the causes of premature birth.

Each year in the U.S., about 1 in 10 babies is born prematurely.

A baby’s life-long health problems can have a devastating financial effect on a family.

Babies born at 36 – 38 weeks of pregnancy may struggle with learning in school.

If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks to give your baby’s brain and other organs the time they need to develop before birth.

If a baby is born prematurely and seems fine, he won’t have any problems as he gets older.

Which is the false statement?

They are all true except for the last statement. Just because a premature baby seems fine when he leaves the hospital doesn’t mean he won’t struggle with learning, experience developmental delays, or have disabilities as he gets older. About 1 in 3 children born prematurely need special school services at some point during their school years.

Learn more about the impact of premature birth on a family and society and how the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates the cost of premature birth in the United States to be $26.2 billion each year.

See our article to understand the emotional toll of prematurity on a family, especially as they face days, weeks or even months watching their baby fight for his life in the hospital.

What can YOU do?

Everyone can participate in Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day on November 17th by visiting https://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday. Help us light the world purple to spread awareness!

Join the conversations on Twitter – see our upcoming chats about prematurity here.

Have questions?  Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month – Come chat with us!

Monday, October 31st, 2016

parents in the NICU

We have several Twitter chats scheduled in November, in honor of Prematurity Awareness Month.

Please join us:

Wednesday, November 2 at 1pm ET with neonatologist Dr. Suresh of Texas Children’s Hospital. Use #preemiechat

Topic:  Prematurity – causes, complications, and coping in the NICU

 

Wednesday, November 9 at 2pm ET with Mom’s Rising. Use #WellnessWed

Topic: Can your preconception health reduce your chances of giving birth early?

 

Tuesday, November 15th at 2pm ET with Genetic Alliance and Baby’s First Test. Use #preemiechat

Topic: Is prematurity caused by genetics? Can it run in families?

 

We hope to see you on Twitter!

For questions or more information about these chats, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

birth announcement

Crazy luck – one mom’s story

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
CharlieNICU (2)Today, in recognition of World Prematurity Day, we are honored to share this post written by a mom of a preemie about what Prematurity Awareness Month means to her.

Lots of people don’t know what it means to have a premature baby. I didn’t know either, before I had my baby. Charlie was born  at 25 weeks, weighing 1 pound 15 ounces.

If you had told me that I, a healthy person with not a single complication in my first 25 weeks of pregnancy, would have a baby before I even reached my third trimester – I’m not sure I would have believed it. And yet, it happens, WAY more than it should. Yes, it sometimes happens to moms who don’t have access to good prenatal care. But it also happens to moms who do take care of themselves, who get prenatal care… moms like me.

In this day and age, where doctors can predict, know, and treat so much, the miracles of fertility, pregnancy and prematurity are still mysteries in a lot of ways. In our case, we still don’t know for sure why Charlie came early – and why there were no advance signs that gave the doctors any chance to prepare him for an untimely arrival.

My “incompetent cervix” (worst medical term ever, by the way) was part of the problem, but the fact that my body was contracting and ready to birth a baby at just 25 weeks was another, totally unexplained, part of the problem. And between the time I walked to the hospital that morning and he was born that afternoon, there just wasn’t enough time for them to do anything to keep him inside a few more precious days. Those days really are precious, too. That early in gestation, every week increases the chances of survival a lot, and likely reduces the number of complications the baby is going to face. Unfortunately for us, by the time they knew I was in labor, there was no stopping it or even slowing it down.

Our story has a happy ending – at least at this point! Our boy is happy, a total handful, and most importantly, healthy – for the most part, although the hacking cough he has right now might indicate otherwise. Today I picked him up from school, and he and his best buddy (another Charlie) wanted to run wild on the playground a bit before heading home – all that time sitting in a classroom is hard on a first grade wild man!  So they ran – and then they both planted themselves on a bench and coughed and coughed, like little old men. The common thread? Both are preemies. Coincidence that they’re the ones hacking when the other kids are running non-stop?  I think not. I think these former preemie lungs seem to be more impacted by this unusually warm, moist fall we’re having – and by pollen-heavy springs, and pollution, etc. Though our boy grows and grows, his premature past still rears its ugly face here and there.

I recognize that we are CRAZY lucky to have such a vibrant, busy, healthy boy. I think most moms probably reflect all the time on their kids’ successes and strengths and feel pride and joy. But for me, there’s the added reminder of what could have been. I can guarantee you, I take none of these skills and accomplishments for granted. I think ALL THE TIME about the tears I shed over that tiny, struggling baby in the isolette, and how the life I’m living now was the stuff of daydreams back then. And I will never forget where we started, and just how far he’s come.Charlie2015

So that’s it, that’s why this month is important to me. Prematurity awareness is important because it helps people realize that it really matters to support the March of Dimes, which works constantly to reduce the numbers of premature babies born every day. And it’s important because it reminds me to be oh so grateful for how far we’ve come, and how many doctors and nurses and therapists and scientists and family and friends have helped us get here.

Marie lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and Charlie. Charlie was born at 25 weeks and weighed 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. He spent 85 days in the NICU at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC.

 

On an average DAY in the United States…

Monday, November 16th, 2015

10,926     babies are born
1,045       babies are born preterm (before 37 weeks gestation)
874          babies are born low birthweight (under 5 1/2 pounds)
329          babies are born with a birth defect
174          babies are born very preterm (before 32 weeks gestation)
153          babies are born very low birthweight (under 3 1/3 pounds)
64            babies die before their first birthday

Yes – these numbers are talking about only ONE day!

Numbers don’t lie. And these numbers are way too high. In the U.S., 380,000 babies are born too soon every year. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born prematurely each year.

Some babies will pull through without issues or problems, due to medical advances. But there are so many who won’t. Losing a baby due to premature birth is nothing short of a tragedy. And, the enormous stress and strain of having a child with a disability as a result of prematurity, is lifelong.

This is why the March of Dimes is working so hard to solve this complex problem.

We’re getting resultsNICU doctor and baby resized

After decades of increases, the rate of premature birth in the United States has now been on a steady decline for the last several years.

This decline – to 9.6% today (down from 12.8% in 2006) – means 231,000 fewer babies  have been born premature. That’s significant! It also has saved our nation billions of dollars in excess health care costs. But we still have more work to do. Our goal is to lower the preterm birth rate to 5.5% in 2030. When we reach this goal, it will mean that 1.3 million fewer babies will have been born preterm.

You can help

November 17th marks World Prematurity Day, and the March of Dimes and our partner organizations worldwide are asking everyone to help spread the word on the serious problem of premature birth.

Join the 24-hour #worldprematurityday Buzzday.

Join one of our Twitter chats.

Don’t be silent. Every voice counts. Together we can increase awareness and help end premature birth.

Our babies deserve it.

380,000 babies born too soon in the U.S.

Friday, November 6th, 2015

WPD-2015-Report-Card-MapThis year, the United States received a “C” on the March of Dimes 2015 Premature Birth Report Card. Although the overall rate of preterm birth dropped to 9.6% in 2014, 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born too soon. And despite the decline, the U.S. preterm birth rate continues to rank among the worst of high-income countries.

Four states received an “A” on the report card—Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Vermont. All of these states had a preterm birth rate of 8.1% or less. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico all received an “F.” Their preterm birth rates were 11.5% or greater.

For the first time this year, in addition to grading states, the report card graded cities and counties around the nation. This additional analysis showed persistent racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities. According to the report card, Portland, Oregon has the best preterm birth rate at 7.2%, earning that city an “A” on the report card. However, Shreveport, Louisiana has the worst preterm birth rate and received an “F” for its 18.8% rate.

Check out the grade for your state and the top 100 cities with the most births nationwide.

The March of Dimes has set a new goal to lower the national preterm birth rate to 8.1% by 2020 and to 5.5% by 2030. Reaching the 2020 goal of 8.1% will mean that 210,000 fewer babies will be born preterm and achieving the 2030 goal will mean 1.3 million fewer babies will be born preterm saving about $70 billion.

“This aggressive goal can be achieved by increasing best practices in preconception and pregnancy care, wider use of proven interventions such as progesterone and birth spacing, and funding discovery research through our research centers,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

Continued research to identify new medical advances to prevent preterm birth is necessary in order to reach the new goal. The March of Dimes supports a nationwide network of five cutting-edge, team-based research centers seeking to find the unknown causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day (WPD) will be observed on November 17 by the March of Dimes and partner organizations worldwide. Activities in honor of WPD are expected in about 100 countries. Join us for Twitter chats throughout the month and the 24-hour #worldprematurityday Buzzday on November 17th.

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month – come chat with us!

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

preemie and mom

We have lots of great Twitter chats scheduled. Please join us:

  November 4th 11am ET #PreemieChat with @NICHD_NIH

November 9th 2pm ET #ActEarly with @AUCDNews

November 12th  1pm ET #PrematurityChat with @keepemcookin

November 13th 9pm ET #NICUchat with @PeekabooicuRN

November 17 is World Prematurity Day. Join us for the 24-hour #worldprematurityday Buzzday.
Help raise awareness by wearing purple -the color of prematurity and the March of Dimes.

November 18th 1pm ET #NICUPMAD with @postpartumprog & @selenidotorg

November 19th 1pm ET #PreemieChat with @GeneticAlliance

For more information about these chats contact: askus@marchofdimes.org

preemie hand in adult hand