Last updated: May 02. 2014 4:48PM - 1026 Views
By Jessica Johnson jessicajohnson@civitasmedia.com

Hundreds of walkers prepare to enter the Emily B. Taylor Greenway at the start of last year's March for Babies.
Hundreds of walkers prepare to enter the Emily B. Taylor Greenway at the start of last year's March for Babies.
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In the United States, according to the March of Dimes, one in nine babies is born too soon, which leaves the country with a premature birth rate higher than that of most developed nations —a rate that has risen by 36 percent over the past 25 years.

Premature birth is the leading cause of death in newborns.

On May 10, the March of Dimes will hold the annual March for Babies in Mount Airy at Veterans Memorial Park, with a registration time of 9 a.m. and a start time of 10 a.m. Walkers will gather from across Mount Airy, Surry County, and surrounding areas to raise awareness and generate funds to make the mission of March of Dimes possible.

The March of Dimes Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant death. The group provides mothers, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age with resources on pregnancy, baby health, motherhood, and also assist and provide education and support to families who are affected by premature birth, birth defects, and other infant health problems.

North Carolina is in the middle, in terms of percentage of premature births, with 12 percent of babies born in the state born prematurely. The contributing factors of preterm birth in North Carolina can be difficult to determine, but the March of Dime funds research to study and track the factors.

Among uninsured women who live in North Carolina, according to data gathered by March of Dimes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of preterm birth is 23.8 percent, which is down slightly from the 2012 rate of 24.1 percent. Health care before and during pregnancy can help to identify and manage conditions that contribute to premature birth. A major contributing factor of premature birth is smoking while pregnant, with 22.4 percent of babies born prematurely to women who smoke while they are pregnant. In fact this rate has risen from the 2012 rate of 20.4 percent.

The March of Dimes is leading its Prematurity Campaign in an attempt to reduce the nation’s preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent or less by 2020. All states have signed a pledge to work toward this goal, according to the March of Dimes website.

Nikki Underwood is a local participant in the March for Babies, the annual March of Dimes walk. She said her son, Makkhi, was born at 26 weeks, and spent a lot of time in the NICU after he was born.

“I support them because we really want to spread awareness about what March of Dimes does. I’m big on the research part since that has helped my family with education for my son while he was in NICU getting care. I got to see first hand what some of the research funded by March of Dimes does to help, especially with my son, who was born with under-developed lungs and received a therapy developed by March of Dimes research. A lot of people don’t realize how the things they do make a different big difference.”

Underwood said she was “very appreciative and thankful” and said participating and raising funds for March of Dimes walk is how she helps. “We organize a team, and plus we get to show off Makkhi, who is now eight-years-old. It’s a great cause.”

To register online for the walk, visit www.marchofdimes.com/northcarolina/events/event.html and navigate to “Upcoming events” then select “March for Babies — Mount Airy 2014” for more information and to register individuals, families, and/or teams.

For more information about the event, call Jamie Southern, community director of the Mount Airy March for Babies at 336-231-2765 or email her at jsouthern@marchofdimes.com.

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