Calling attention to Prematurity Awareness Month is more important than ever before. But this crisis is not just about the health of babies born too soon, it’s about those we’ve lost. It’s about the moms who died and those who face serious health problems before, during and after pregnancy. It’s about the continuum of care for all moms and babies.
Maternal and infant health crisis
Each year in our country, more than 22,000 babies die—that’s two babies every hour. Here are some other alarming facts about premature birth you should know:
- The preterm birth rate increased from 9.63 percent in 2015 to 10.02 percent in 2018.
- Premature birth can lead to lifelong health problems (e.g., cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss).
- Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the U.S. and globally.
The rates of maternal death and severe pregnancy complications are unacceptable. According to the United Nations (UN), the U.S. is among the most dangerous developed nations in the world in which to give birth. A woman dies approximately every 12 hours as a result of complications from pregnancy, and over 50,000 suffer life-threatening health challenges.
While approximately 700 women die from pregnancy-related causes each year in the U.S., more than 60 percent of these deaths are preventable. Even more alarming is the fact that significant racial disparity in maternal mortality exists—Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy compared to White women.
Leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies
March of Dimes is shining a spotlight on this maternal and infant health crisis this Prematurity Awareness Month and on November 17, World Prematurity Day. We are dedicated to advancing the understanding of premature birth, working hand-in-hand with researchers, policymakers, community leaders and families. As part of this effort:
- On November 4, we are issuing the March of Dimes Report Card that for the first time highlights the collective factors that contribute to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.
- We are advocating for policies that prioritize the health of moms and babies. We recently supported the passage of the Preemie Reauthorization and Newborn Screening Saves Live Reauthorization Acts.
- Through our six March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers we are studying the unknown causes of premature birth to help solve this urgent health crisis.
- We provide resources and programs that help moms before and throughout pregnancy. We are expanding our group prenatal care program, Supportive Pregnancy Care, for moms and continue our NICU Family Support programs for families whose babies need to stay in the hospital.
- Through the March of Dimes Prematurity Collaborative, 450 organizations and more than 700 individuals are working to achieve equity and improvements in premature birth prevention.
It’s not fine. But it can be.
We need your support to create positive change. That is why we’re calling on communities and individuals nationwide to join us in the fight for the health of all moms and babies this November. You can take action in the #ItsNotFine campaign during #PrematurityAwarenessMonth. You can:
- Advocate by signing our petition to encourage lawmakers to improve the health of moms and their babies by passing a comprehensive bill to fight for the health and lives of moms. Visit Marchofdimes.org/actioncenter to speak up and on social media use #BlanketChange.
- Donate at marchofdimes.org or create your own #DIYfundraising campaign. Your donation could help in ways such as:
- $25: Provide a meal to a family with a baby staying in the NICU.
- $50: Help NICU babies build bonds with their families through programs that give parents the chance to nurture them, even through a hospital stay.
- $75: Provide quality prenatal care to a mom at risk.
- Share Your Story on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—don’t forget to tag @marchofdimes and use #PrematurityAwarenessMonth, #ItsNotFine and #WorldPrematurityDay (on November 17) in your posts!
- Join our #UnspokenStories community and our new March of Dimes Community on Facebook to share or listen to honest stories of pregnancy, parenting and loss.
- Participate in days of gratitude or host an Unspoken Conversation to support those who’ve been affected by premature birth or celebrate NICU graduates. Reach out to caregivers, hospital staff, policymakers and anyone who has supported you.
- Light it purple, including your office or home. If you can wear it, make it purple. And don’t forget to share pictures on your social channels.
- Volunteer in your community. Learn more at Marchofdimes.org/volunteers.
- Visit our gift guide to purchase a HERO T-shirt for everyone in your family to show your support for healthy moms and strong babies.
Visit MarchofDimes.org/PrematurityAwarenessMonth to learn more about the actions you can take to join the fight.