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Ohio Prematurity Caucus Forming to Meet Challenge
Date:1/22/2008

Group of Lawmakers Vow to Fight Premature Birth in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The latest figures are out and Ohio's rate of premature birth is up once again from 12.5% in 2004, to 13% in 2005. A total of 19,321 preterm births were recorded for 2005 and over 20 lawmakers have now vowed to work together for the health of all of Ohio's babies. "We were happy to receive the news that our legislators were creating a non-partisan caucus to increase awareness of the serious health issues related to premature birth and to examine and implement public policy issues relative to prematurity and its prevention," said Dr. Jay Iams, Chair of the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter Prematurity Campaign. Senator Keith Faber (R) of Celina also added, "In addition to the severe emotional and social toll premature births have on Ohio families, there are economic issues to consider as well."

In addition to announcing the formation of the Ohio Prematurity Caucus, the inside of the Ohio Statehouse Atrium will be alive with the display of more than 19,000 signatures from concerned families all over the state. Many are in memory of babies who have died due to premature birth. The March of Dimes Ohio Chapter met its statewide goal of collecting at least 18,600 signatures -- one for every baby born premature in a single year in Ohio. By positioning the banners at all 21 walksites around the state, every walker, family member and volunteer had a chance to show their support for the fight to reduce premature birth, and improve the health of all babies.

The Prematurity Caucus is an organized front against a very costly infant health crisis.

Senator Faber, along with Representative Tim DeGeeter (D) of Parma, Dr. Iams of the College of Medicine and Public Health at The Ohio State University, and representatives of the Ohio Chapter of the March of Dimes will gather in the Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse for a noon press conference to announce the formation of the caucus and declare its intent to tackle the rising health crisis of prematurity in Ohio. Right now 2,864 babies are born in an average week in Ohio -- of those 358 are preterm, and another 22 babies will die before reaching their first birthday. Senator Faber says he's proof that this is a community-wide issue, "Premature births are on the rise, and can affect any family irrespective of health or economic status. It is my hope that the Ohio Prematurity Caucus will create a forum where speakers can educate caucus members on the data and the research, and, together we can find ways to affect change in this tragic phenomenon." Faber says it's time that all of Ohio's counties make it a priority to educate the public that preterm birth can happen to anyone. The causes of nearly half of all preterm births are unknown. He says counties should also be encouraging health care providers to take an aggressive stance to prevent complications.

Dr. Iams will speak about the medical impact of prematurity, and the challenges facing health care providers. Dr. Iams is the Frederick P. Zuspan Endowed Chair, Professor and Vice Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology at OSU and is also a past president of the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine. Dr. Iams is widely recognized for his extensive research related to the epidemiology of and prevention of preterm birth. Dr. Iams says this has become an issue the community can no longer afford to ignore.

The U.S. Public Health Service Healthy People 2010 objectives have adopted a goal of reducing the overall rate of prematurity to no more than 7.6 percent of all births by 2010.

Who: Prematurity Caucus

What: Press Conference

Why: Outline Plans to Lower Ohio's Premature Birth Rate

When: January 23rd, 2008 from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.

Where: Ohio Statehouse Atrium

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.


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SOURCE March of Dimes Ohio Chapter
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