Premature birth is the No. 1 killer of newborn babies.
Every year, more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States. Those who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.
The March of Dimes is dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
Since 1970, the March of Dimes' March for Babies has raised $2 billion toward this goal. At present, nearly $3 million is invested in active research grants in Iowa.
Research efforts have succeeded on many fronts, including:
Advances in diagnosis and surgical treatment of heart defects, which affect 1 of every 100 babies born in the U.S.
Development of surfactant and nitric oxide therapies to treat respiratory distress syndrome, a common affliction among premature babies
Effective screening at birth for disorders for which treatment is available.
The positive effects of the March of Dimes are patently obvious to anyone who has had children. But even those who are not parents benefit from the efforts of the organization. By working to reduce the rate of premature births, millions of dollars in health care costs are saved.
In 2012, more than 7 million people in 900 communities across the nation, including Fort Dodge, will hold March for Babies events, in which teams of fundraisers will walk to support the March of Dimes.
The Fort Dodge walk is scheduled for April 21 at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
The Messenger strongly encourages participation in this worthy endeavor.