March of Dimes, the nonprofit organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies, calls on families, partners and advocates to take action during Prematurity Awareness Month this November to raise awareness of and support for the 15 million babies affected by preterm birth each year around the world.

The preterm birth rate in the United States is on the rise for the third year in a row, a trend signaling an urgent health crisis for moms and babies, March of Dimes says.

Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the largest contributor to infant death in the United States and around the world. Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

“If we can come together as a community, we can create solutions that support healthy moms and strong babies here in Washington, D.C., and across the nation, not just in November, but all year long,” says Gwendylon E. Johnson, Chair of the Maternal Child Health Committee for MD and Greater Washington DC.
This fall, March of Dimes will launch a nationwide campaign called #BlanketChange, designed to cultivate awareness about the urgent health crisis moms and babies face – including increased rates of maternal mortality and preterm birth – and inspire advocacy and action in support of the March of Dimes Blanket Change Agenda.

Throughout November, the March of Dimes will conduct Days of Gratitude at hospital newborn intensive care units (NICUs) throughout the region. “Days of Gratitude are a chance to support those who’ve been affected by premature birth and let them know they’re not alone. We celebrate NICU graduates who have overcome many obstacles, and thank caregivers, hospital staff and policymakers for the difference they’ve made in so many lives,” Johnson says.

Other March of Dimes events throughout this month include; Maternal Health Equity Summits; Grand Rounds and webinars on prematurity prevention; Kangaroo Mother Care educational sessions at hospitals (Kangaroo-A-Thons), and more.

March of Dimes urges everyone in throughout the region to raise their voices to advocate with their elected officials for the passage of laws and regulations that promote the health of women, babies and families, such as the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act.

Landmarks and buildings throughout the U.S. are scheduled to be bathed in purple lights on Prematurity Awareness Month, including the Empire State Building in New York City, and locally, the Masonic Temple, the Capital Wheel, and the Gaylord Hotel, literally shining a light on the challenge of preterm birth.

On November 1, March of Dimes will release its annual Premature Birth Report Card, which grades all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, plus cities and counties around the nation, on their rates of preterm birth. The Report Card also reveals racial, ethnic and geographic disparities on preterm birth within states, raising awareness of the challenges March of Dimes and its partners are working to overcome.

November 17 will be recognized around the globe as the 8th annual World Prematurity Day, empowering families, partners and friends to post messages of support and awareness across social media platforms. Socially-minded advocates and fundraisers can raise awareness of the preterm birth crisis, ignite action and celebrate families by posting messages on Facebook, Twitter, lnstagram, sharing images of strong babies and tagging @marchofdimes with #WorldPrematurityDay.

Donations from individuals, families and corporate partners alike are critical to support efforts to help families who need it most before, during and after pregnancy, March of Dimes says. Whether shopping the inaugural gift guide, starting a Facebook fundraiser or visiting marchofdimes.orq/donate, each contribution will fund the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we stand up for every mom and every baby. Visit or for more information. Visit for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on lnstagram and Twitter.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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