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Fires Put Pregnant Women, Infants at Risk

March of Dimes provides tips to protect those most vulnerable during


SAN DIEGO, Oct 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- March of Dimes urges pregnant women and families with young infants to take special precautions as fires burn throughout Southern California.

"Expectant mothers and babies are at increased risk during disasters and we are doing all we can to provide information to help keep moms and babies healthy," said Dani Montague, State Director of the March of Dimes California Chapter. "The entire country learned hard lessons from Hurricane Katrina."

City and County officials have urged pregnant women and babies to stay indoors or wear protective masks to avoid inhaling smoke and pollutants. For families who must leave home for the safety of an emergency shelter, March of Dimes provides the following guidelines to help protect the health of expectant mothers and infants:

Special information for Pregnant Women:

-- Bring copies of medical records, including prenatal medical records

and contact information for your health care provider

-- Immediately notify shelter of your pregnancy and get information about

the location of hospitals in the area

-- Ensure you have plenty of water and high-protein snacks

-- Bring with you any medications, including prenatal vitamins and


-- Do all you can to reduce stress -- stress is a major factor in preterm


-- Learn the signs of preterm labor and contact shelter officials

immediately if you experience any of the following:

- Contractions every 10 minutes of more

- Leaking vaginal fluid or bleeding

- Feeling that baby is pushing down

- Low, dull backache

- Abdominal cramps

Special information for Families with Infants:

-- Bring copies of baby's medical records and contact information for

health care providers

-- Pack a large supply of diapers (approximately 70 diapers per week for


-- Bring plenty of ready-to-serve formula - never use water treated with

iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare powdered formula.

-- Shelters can be loud, bring pacifiers and any other items that may

soothe baby

-- Stress can affect a woman's milk supply if breastfeeding. Even if

breastfeeding, have on-hand ready-to-serve formula

For more information about caring for pregnant women and babies during disaster, visit

The needs of a pregnant woman and babies during a disaster are unique. March of Dimes urges families to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by local state agencies. For questions about the health effects of the disaster, please talk with a health care professional.

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 and in 2003 launched a multi-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at or its Spanish language Web site at

SOURCE March of Dimes
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