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March of Dimes launches Prematurity Prevention Network

WASHINGTON, D.C, Jan. 23, 2012 The March of Dimes, along with its partners, are giving experts in the field of preterm birth prevention an opportunity to learn from each other and to work together to bring the nation's preterm birth rate under 10 percent and give more babies a healthy start.

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin was the keynote speaker for the Prematurity Prevention Symposium. The symposium will was a forum to share lessons learned from regional and statewide perinatal collaboratives, review prevention efforts used by hospitals and providers, and showcase community-based intervention programs. The symposium's purpose was to launch the Prematurity Prevention Network a virtual network made up of health care providers, insurers, policy makers, and business leaders who will work together to achieve the March of Dimes goal of lowering the preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent of live births.

Those wishing to join the network can create an account at

"Our goal is ambitious yet achievable. This symposium and the network will create opportunities for experts in the field to share information about how they designed implemented and evaluated programs, policies and other activities to prevent preterm births. Expansion of successful programs will move us along the path toward success," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "When we succeed and I know we will it will mean that 115,000 fewer babies each year would suffer the serious health risks of an early birth."

Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. Although the US preterm birth has declined in recent years, more than a half million babies are born too soon each year. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and one million babies worldwide die each year as a result of their early birth. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.

Among the experts who spoke were :

  • Roberto Romero, MD, chief of the Perinatology Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health,
  • Jay D. Iams, MD, professor and endowed chair, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ohio State University College of Medicine,
  • Ruth Ann Shepherd, MD, division director, Adult & Child Health Improvement,Kentucky Department for Public Health,
  • Steven L. Clark, MD medical director, Women's and Children's Clinical Services, Hospital Corporation of America,
  • Bryan T. Oshiro, MD, vice chairman and associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine,
  • Wanda D. Barfield, MD, MPH, director, Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  • Samuel R. Nussbaum, MD executive vice president, Clinical Health Policy and chief medical officer, WellPoint, Inc.
  • Patrick Conway, MD, MSc,chief medical officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
  • Alan E. Guttmacher, MD director, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

A joint effort by the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symposium and network grew out of the 2009 March of Dimes Symposium on Quality Improvement to Prevent Prematurity.


Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
March of Dimes Foundation

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