Battling Prematurity to Ensure a Fighting Chance for Every Baby

Posted November 10, 2015 by March of Dimes

As the backbone organization of the national Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), NICHQ partners with many organizations working to improve outcomes for babies. One of those organizations is the March of Dimes, which focuses on preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. We invited the March of Dimes to share with us some of their new projects and activities.

March of Dimes Premature BabyEvery year, about 380,000 babies are born too soon in the United States. Our preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent places the U.S. among the worst of high resource nations. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems. 

As we focus the spotlight on the problem of prematurity during Prematurity Awareness Month in November and World Prematurity Day Nov. 17, one of the highlights this year will be a Prematurity Prevention Conference held in Arlington, Virginia Nov. 17-18. The conference brings together a multidisciplinary group to discuss the science of preterm birth, collaborations to prevent prematurity, quality improvement measures, and promoting health equity. Many breakout sessions are a great fit for the Infant Mortality CoIIN teams including: group prenatal care, smoking cessation, birth spacing, reducing early elective deliveries, access to progesterone, and low dose aspirin to prevent preeclampsia in high-risk women.

Also in November, the eighth annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Cards will be announced. The report cards assign grades to states, and the nation, based on progress in meeting March of Dimes preterm birth rate reduction goals. This year the report cards include new information to highlight populations within and among states with a high volume or burden of prematurity. For the first time, preterm birth rates and grades will be given for the largest cities or counties in each state. Preterm birth rates for racial/ethnic groups within the state will also be provided and the states will receive a preterm birth disparity ranking. See how your state performed at

March of Dimes also has big plans to share prematurity awareness messages through social media. Thunderclap, a crowd-speaking platform, invites supporters from around the world to participate in social media outreach for the cause. By registering on Thunderclap through Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, you can arrange to designate a message to be posted to your social media platforms, therefore helping to expand global awareness of premature birth. With everyone posting the same message on every social platform we will have an incredible reach! We will also be promoting #worldprematurityday on Twitter. We encourage you to tweet, retweet and share a story; let’s flood Twitter with prematurity messages!

To cap it off, World Prematurity Day, Nov. 17, will focus on educating individuals that premature birth is the leading cause of death for children under 5 worldwide, and highlight the need for both prevention and care. The day will be marked by advocacy and awareness events conducted by grassroots groups all over the world. Last year saw World Prematurity Day activities in about 100 nations. With this kind of widespread commitment and your help, we can reduce prematurity and ensure a fighting chance for every baby.

Learn more about NICHQ's infant health work.
Learn more about the IM CoIIN initiative.


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