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    Prematurity Awareness Event held at State House

    Boston, MA, November 15, 2013 —

    The Massachusetts Chapter held a Prematurity Awareness Month event on November 14 at the Massachusetts State House.

    Sponsored by Senator John Keenan, Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, the event recognized November as National Prematurity Awareness Month and helped raised awareness about the premature birth rate in the United States and within Massachusetts.

    An estimated 15 million babies around the world are born premature each year and more than one million of them do not survive their early birth. Although the United States has seen six consecutive years of sustained improvement in its preterm birth rate, it has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any industrialized country.

    Speakers at the event were Senator Keenan, Dr. Joseph Mitchell, co-chair of the March of Dimes Massachusetts advocacy committee; Dr. Robert Insoft, NICU Medical Director at Brigham & Women’s Hospital; and Molly Baab, a March of Dimes volunteer and mission speaker.

    Highlighting the event was the presentation of the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award.

    The award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates eight percent between 2009 and 2014. Based on 2012 preliminary data, Massachusetts has reduced its rate of preterm birth from 10.9 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2012—an 8.3 percent reduction.

    The Apgar Award was officially presented to Ron Benham, Director of the Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

    The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes.

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