About March of Dimes
President Franklin Roosevelt's personal struggle with polio led him to create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at a time when polio was on the rise. Better known as the March of Dimes, the foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD. These vaccines effectively ended epidemic polio in the United States.
Preventing birth defects
Its original mission accomplished, the foundation turned its focus to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. The March of Dimes has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy. We have supported research for surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress and helped initiate the system of regional neonatal intensive care for premature and sick babies. Our recent Folic Acid Campaign achieved a dramatic reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects, birth defects of the brain and spine.
Fighting premature birth
Since 2003, our fight to save babies has been strongly characterized by our Prematurity Campaign. The rising incidence of premature birth has demanded action, and the March of Dimes has responded by initiating an intensive, multi-year campaign to raise awareness and find the causes of prematurity.
Fighting premature birth
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 percent today – has saved thousands of babies from being born too soon. It also has saved our nation billions of dollars in excess health care costs. Despite this progress, about 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year.
The Prematurity Campaign
In 2003, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign to address the crisis and help families have full-term, healthy babies. We’re funding lifesaving research and speaking out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. In 2008, we expanded the campaign globally.
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®
Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preventable preterm birth, with a focus on reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait involves an education and awareness campaign, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs. These strategies are focused on interventions and activities that have the potential to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth.
Prematurity Awareness Month®
November is Prematurity Awareness Month® and when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. The awareness month kicks off with the release of the Premature Birth Report Card. November 17 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.