Healthy Baby Challenge
NEWS ALERT - health leaders in Minnesota collaborate for stronger, healthier babiesEdina, MN, November 13, 2012
The March of Dimes, state agencies, and health care providers have joined together to dispel the myth that it’s safe to schedule a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical need.
Minnesota earned a “B” on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card.
“With one in 10 babies being born premature in Minnesota, we need to do more to make sure that more babies are being born healthy, excess health care costs are being reduced, and families are being spared the heartache of having a baby born too soon,” said Glenn Andis, March of Dimes Chapter Board Chair.
To reduce premature births and raise Minnesota’s grade to an “A,” the March of Dimes is collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Hospital Association to raise awareness that every week of pregnancy is crucial to a newborn’s health by launching the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Campaign.
Babies born after 37 weeks of pregnancy are full term. However, new research has shown that a baby’s brain nearly doubles in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Also, important lung and other organ development occur at this time. And, although the overall risk of death is small, it is double for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy, when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.
“The health of our babies is a critical measure of the health of our community,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. “One of the greatest gifts we can give a family is never having to be confronted with the death or serious illness of an infant. Minnesota is a leader in creating conditions that allow people to be healthy and we can do better for babies.”
The Minnesota Department of Health has accepted a joint challenge from the March of Dimes and Association of Territories and State Health Officials (ASTHO) to reduce premature births by 8 percent by 2014. This will spare 550 babies the risks of an early birth.
The Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait campaign includes health information for patients, public service announcements, a soon-to-be-released iPhone app and educational DVD. This public education compliments the work March of Dimes has done with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and hospitals to adopt policies against medically unnecessary deliveries before 39 weeks. This change went into effect in January 2012 and now nearly every birthing hospital in the state has policies against early deliveries when there is no medical need.
The Minnesota Hospital Association is helping to further this work with a pregnancy and birth safety program, which includes a focus on preventing elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks, patient education and provider/nurse training on key areas.
The premature birth rate in Minnesota dropped to 9.9 percent in 2011. That is down from a high of 10.7 in 2005. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Nationally, the premature birth rate fell to 11.7 percent, giving the United States a “C” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.