Working to improve the health of women and children
Other examples of activities include: immunizations; preconception care and prenatal services; smoking, alcohol and substance abuse prevention and cessation initiatives; nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (.PDF, 80K); and programs to reduce exposure to environmental and reproductive hazards associated with birth defects.
Federal advocacy efforts
As part of the March of Dimes National Prematurity Campaign, the Foundation drafted and secured enactment of the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450). The law called for a Surgeon General’s conference on preterm birth, as well as for increased federal investment in prematurity-related research and education. Work is now underway to reauthorize PREEMIE before it expires in 2011.
State advocacy efforts
In 2003, the March of Dimes initiated a state-by-state effort to upgrade newborn screening programs so that all babies are screened for life-threatening, but treatable, disorders. When the effort began, state programs typically tested for an average of six disorders; today more than 96 percent of infants are born in states that require screening for 26 or more conditions.