November Awareness: National Prematurity Awareness Month


Ashley Masse, Contributing Editor

The Prematurity Campaign dedicates the month of November towards prematurity awareness. With the funding of supporters and success of medical professionals, the rate of premature birth, has been steadily declining over the past several years. However, premature birth, which is a birth that takes place at least three weeks before the baby is due, still poses a huge risk to the welfare of children as “about 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year” according to the March of Dimes cause.

What is the medical impact on premature infants? The March of Dimes explains that the respiratory system, immune system, digestive system, and circulatory system of infants can all be put at risk for conditions such as:

  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) which is a lung condition that develops fluid in the lungs, scarring, and lung damage
  • Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) which causes bleeding in the brain
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which is a problem in the intestines that results in feeding problems, swollen belly, and diarrhea
  • Infections due to undeveloped immune systems, which cause pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis

These medical conditions make staying healthy a harder task for premature infants than it is for babies born closer to their due dates. However, doctors and caregivers do their best to offer the best care possible by arranging access to special equipment, treatment, and/or medicine before the infant even leaves the hospital. Support groups and other resources are also available to provide a way for parents to learn how to care for their babies in the situation of a premature birth.

What can you do to reach out? Many organizations are dedicated to spreading awareness of prematurity and raising funds for research grants. The March of Dimes is a well known event that brings together families and supporters in teams to participate in a 3 mile walk. The High Point March for Babies is annually on November 10, 2012 at Highpoint University and brings in an average of $195,886,297 every year. It is simple to register for this event and the March of Dimes website offers instructions and other information regarding how the walk will carry out.

If you don’t have the time or are busy on the day of the March of Dimes, another awareness campaign has been going viral on social media. Belly Flops for Babies is an irresistibly fun and easy challenge that is looking for new participants. Much like the Ice Bucket Challenge, it involves video taping yourself as you get soaked in front of the camera. In the video, you have to introduce who you are and how you have been nominated. Then in a countdown of 1,2,3, you are to belly flop into a pool. In the last part of the video, you will pick another person to be nominated for the challenge. The Belly Flops for Babies video challenges has been calling out friends and family on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get wet and spread awareness for prematurity.

As the month of November carries on, we should all do our best to contribute to the Prematurity campaign. By coming together in walks and on social media, we can increase the funds going toward treatment research and availability. Our support helps. You may be one person, but as the title “March of Dimes” infers, small values in great quantities will create a force strong enough to battle prematurity.