"Prematurity is the number one killer of newborns. We see from these latest statistics that the prematurity crisis in this country continues to intensify, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will only make it worse, " said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Babies are dying and those who survive are too often left with devastating consequences -- such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, learning problems and blindness."
The March of Dimes began its multi-year campaign to address the growing rate of premature birth in 2003. The campaign educates women on the signs and symptoms of premature birth, and supports more research into the causes of premature labor. One of the goals of the campaign is to help the nation reach the goal set by the U.S. Public Health Service of reducing the rate of premature birth to 7.6 percent by 2010.
The NCHS report, entitled "Births Final Data for 2003" appeared in the National Vital Statistics Report, volume 54, number 2.
The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.