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We must re­duce preterm birth rate

Meet­ing the par­ents of a new baby for the first time in the neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit of the hos­pi­tal is one of the most dif­fi­cult mo­ments for any prac­ti­tioner or nurse. Un­for­tu­nately, mo­ments like these hap­pen too often in our com­mu­nity. On Nov. 1, we learned from the 2016 March of Dimes Pre­ma­ture Birth Re­port Card that for the first time in eight years, the na­tion’s rate of preterm birth has wors­ened. Pre­ma­ture birth is the No. 1 killer of ba­bies in the United States, and those who sur­vive an early birth often face se­ri­ous and life­long health prob­lems, in­clud­ing breath­ing prob­lems, jaun­dice, vi­sion loss, cere­bral palsy, and in­tel­lec­tual de­lays. If the preterm birth rate had not in­creased, ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 ba­bies would have had a health­ier birth. Par­ents of pre­ma­ture in­fants often ask “why did this hap­pen to my baby?” Often we do not have an an­swer for them. About half of the time, we don’t know the cause of pre­ma­ture birth. Amer­i­cans lead the world in med­i­cal re­search and care, yet the U.S. preterm birth rate still ranks near the bot­tom of high-re­source na­tions. I know we can do bet­ter for ba­bies na­tion­wide and in Ohio. Please join me in par­tic­i­pat­ing in Pre­ma­tu­rity Aware­ness Month in Novem­ber, a time when the March of Dimes fo­cuses at­ten­tion on ef­forts to fight pre­ma­ture birth. We must mo­bi­lize re­sources and raise our col­lec­tive voices to drive best prac­tices and en­sure that these are adopted more widely. We can sup­port in­no­va­tive re­search spon­sored by the March of Dimes to give more ba­bies a full­term, healthy start in life. Learn more about what you can do at mar­ There you will also find an in­ter­ac­tive map of the U.S. and more facts about pre­ma­tu­rity in Ohio. Richard McClead As­so­ci­ate chief med­i­cal di­rec­tor Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Colum­bus

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