Every year, 470,000 families, including 3,456 here in New Mexico, welcome their new babies into the world prematurely; in fact one out of every eight babies arrives too early.  Premature birth is a common, serious and costly problem for American families.  The rate of premature birth has increased 29 percent in the past two decades according to the National Center for Health Statistics.  In 50 percent of these cases, there are no known risk factors which means all families are at risk. 

Governor Bill Richardson and Mayor Martin Chavez have joined in the recognition of this growing problem, along with the New Mexico Chapter of the March of Dimes, by proclaiming November as Prematurity Awareness Month

According to Dr. Renate Savich, Neonatologist at University of New Mexico Hospital, and March of Dimes Prematurity Chair, "an early birth means more than a baby simply being small. It means the baby's organs and other systems have not finished developing, and that the baby may not be ready to survive on its own. In fact, premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who do survive may face serious lifelong health problems. Prematurity takes an enormous emotional toll on families and costs society billions."

Also in observance of Prematurity Awareness Month, March of Dimes is collaborating with University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center's Neonatology Outreach Program to bring together healthcare experts across the state for the Amazing Newborns and Their Amazing Mothers Conference & Prematurity Summit on November 18 and 19 at the Albuquerque Convention Center.  Experts in maternal and child health will gather to explore obstetric and neonatal care issues as they relate to prematurity prevention and caring for the premature newborn. 

March of Dimes has developed a new web site, called clicktosavebabies.org, where families of premature babies can get information and emotional support. The site features a story-exchange, a chance to participate in national and community activities, and an opportunity to support research.

It's the only site on the web focused exclusively on premature birth, from prenatal to age one. As a non-profit organization, the March of Dimes is able to provide both an outlet for peer-to-peer conversations and expert resources on the same site.

The conference and the website are components of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, a five-year, $75 million effort to address the growing problem of premature birth.

Also, during November, Motherhood Maternity stores, a national retail supporter of Prematurity Awareness Month, is giving customers who make a purchase a free gift bag with March of Dimes healthy pregnancy information.  In Albuquerque, Motherhood Maternity is located at Coronado Mall and Cottonwood Center.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects 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 five-year campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish Web site at nacersano.org.


Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3322