Preemie Matters – November 2010

In this issue of Preemie Matters: March of Dimes Releases Premature Birth Report Card  •  CDC Report Finds Variations in NICU Admission of Very Low Birth Weight Infants  •  Partner Spotlight: Hand to Hold  •  Now Online: Resources from National Perinatal Association Conference  •  "Letters from Santa" Fundraiser Supports NICU Parents  •  American Lung Association Raises Profile of RSV During Prematurity Awareness Month

March of Dimes Releases Premature Birth Report Card

In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, the March of Dimes released its 2010 Premature Birth Report Card, which grades the nation and the states on their preterm birth rates. The overall US ranking of a "D" reminds us that national preterm birth rates do not yet measure up to the Healthy People 2010 goals. However, after three decades of increases, in 2008 there began a two-year decline in the preterm birth rates (a 4% drop from 2006). More information is available at the March of Dimes website, where you can also view state-by-state rankings and download your state's report card.

CDC Report Finds Variations in NICU Admission of Very Low Birth Weight Infants

New findings published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) suggest that there is wide variation among states in the prevalence of NICU admission for infants with very low birth weight (VLBW) - and points to the need to further address state data to identify barriers to NICU admission. The report looked at NICU admissions of VLBW infants in 19 states during 2006. Current standards call for NICU care for all VLBW babies, since it has been shown to reduce mortality for this group. However, just 77.3% of VLBW infants in the study were admitted to NICUs, with some variations by ethnicity. The report is available on CDC's website.

Partner Spotlight: Hand to Hold

Among the least-known tragedies of prematurity are the estimated 76% of moms who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a baby's neonatal ICU stay, with far-reaching consequences for families and communities. But a new nonprofit organization is addressing the unmet need for community-based peer support, which studies suggest can cut this statistic in half. Hand to Hold - whose pilot program based in Austin, TX will serve as a national model - provides resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special healthcare needs and those who have experienced a loss. Founded by a mother of preemies, Hand to Hold focuses on empowering parents to advocate for their children; encouraging counseling when needed; providing resources and information for managing insurance and financial issues; educating parents about the challenges their babies may face and preparing them to meet those needs; and sharing the resources and support necessary to help all children enjoy a full and satisfying life.

Now Online: Resources from National Perinatal Association Conference

Presentation materials and webinars from the National Perinatal Association's Annual Conference, held earlier this month, are now online and available to the public. Among the many topics covered are Cultural Sensitivity in Addressing Perinatal Loss and Bereavement, Advocating for Parents of Premature Infants, Parents as Staff Educators in a NICU, Effects of Postpartum Skin-to-Skin Contact for Mother and Baby, Life with a Child Who Has Special Needs and A Model NICU Program for SIDS Prevention.

"Letter from Santa" Fundraiser Supports NICU Parents

'Tis the season: Each December, St. John's Mercy in St. Louis, MO raises funds for its NICU Parent Support Program with a fun and innovative project. Order a personalized Letter from Santa for your child for a contribution of just $6, and you can help make a difference for the families of premature and critically ill babies. Thanks to this program, St. John's Mercy is able to provide assistance ranging from car seats to free books and gas cards, to one-on-one talks and weekly parent support-group meetings. The deadline is December 12, and it's easy to place your letter order online.

American Lung Association Raises Profile of RSV During Prematurity Awareness Month

The American Lung Association recently recognized National Prematurity Awareness Month with a special email to its supporters and website feature highlighting the RSV virus and its impact on the nation's most vulnerable patient populations. Their message emphasizes prematurity and living with people who smoke as significant risk factors for serious complications. A recent study found that 22,000 hospitalizations of children from RSV each year are related to secondhand smoke, and preemies exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk from dual factors.


Information is reported as provided and does not necessarily represent the view of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. A complete copy of HMHB's disclaimer is available on our website.