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    March of Dimes Day at the State Capitol 2013

    Danielle Prenevost, March of Dimes, (612) 326-9444, dprenevost@marchofdimes.com

    Volunteers advocate for moms, babies and families in Minnesota

    St. Paul, MN, January 15, 2013 —

    March of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for maternal and infant health, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life.  About 4 million babies are born in the United States each year, and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

    On January 15, 2013 volunteers mark the 75th anniversary with March of Dimes Day at the Minnesota State Capitol.  March of Dimes volunteers will advocate for moms, babies and families by delivering recommendations from the Minnesota Task Force on Prematurity to state lawmakers in St. Paul and advocating for the expansion of the Newborn Screening Program. 

    Volunteers will also recognize Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger as the recipient of the March of Dimes Champion of Babies Award.  Dr. Ehlinger earned the award by providing leadership and resources for the public health education campaign Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.  The campaign aims to educate women why the last weeks of pregnancy count.  It encourages women, if their pregnancy is healthy, to wait until at least 39 weeks and to wait for labor to begin on its own.  This campaign includes work with the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services and the Minnesota Hospital Association.

    The aim of the Minnesota Task Force on Prematurity is to improve preterm birth rates and improve premature infant health care.  March of Dimes volunteers support the recommendations outlined in the report which include:

    • Create a perinatal practice collaborative to make recommendations on perinatal health in Minnesota.
    • Utilize or implement a discharge checklist for infants born 34-36 weeks gestation who are not cared for in a Level II or Level III NICU. 
    • Require hospitals to submit data quarterly to the Minnesota Hospital Association on the number of inductions and C-section deliveries that do not meet medical criteria for need and that occur before 39 weeks gestation.
    • Create legislation to continue and extend the lifetime of the Minnesota Task Force on Prematurity through 2015.

    March of Dimes volunteers will also recommend lawmakers support an increased fee for Newborn Screening to add to more tests to the program in Minnesota. Almost every day, the Minnesota Newborn Screening Program finds a baby who will benefit from early diagnosis and treatment.  Newborn Screening checks for serious but rare conditions at birth.  A baby can be born with a health condition but may not show any signs of the problem at first. If a health condition is found early with Newborn Screening, it can often be treated. This makes it possible to avoid more serious health problems later in life.

     Currently, Minnesota tests for 54 conditions.  March of Dimes supports the addition of a test for SCID (SevereCombined Immune Deficiency) to the screening panel.  Infants with SCID have an absence of T and B cells resulting in the severe inability of the immune system to fight disease.  Babies with SCID look healthy at birth.  Diagnosis is often delayed with potentially catastrophic consequences.  Early diagnosis prevents inefficient and costly hospital visits.  SCID testing uses different technologies than is currently utilized to screen for the other 54 disorders and costs $5-7 more per infant to screen.

    March of Dimes volunteers also urge lawmakers to support adding a test for CCHD (Critical Congenital Heart Defects) to Newborn Screening.  Congenital heart defects are the most common and most lethal birth defect, accounted for nearly 30% of all infant deaths due to birth defects. 

    In Minnesota, 125 babies born each year have CCHD, 1/3 are discharged without a diagnosis.  Pulse oximetry, a non-invasive test, can identify some infants before they show signs of the condition.  Once identified, babies with CCHD can be seen by pediatric cardiologists and receive care and treatment.  In Minnesota, more education will be required to ensure all hospital staff are fully aware of how to screen babies for CCHD and have the resources necessary.

    Advocacy is vital to the March of Dimes to advance the mission through public policies, programs and funding.  Take action by signing up for our Advocacy Alerts or contacting the Minnesota Director of Program and Government Affairs, Martha Overby, 612-326-9443.

     

     

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