Did you know that November is Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17th is World Prematurity Day? Until recently, premature birth, which affects 15 million babies worldwide, was not recognized as a significant public health priority by international health agencies, governments or donor organizations.  The March of Dimes and their global program partners have been at the forefront of the call-to-action on premature birth, the number one cause of death in newborns and children under the age of 5. These and other efforts have not gone unnoticed. At the recent United Nation’s Sustainable Development Summit, world leaders formally adopted an ambitious new agenda to promote shared prosperity and well-being over the next 15 years, including a directive to reduce neonatal and under-5 mortality rates.

World Prematurity DayIn conjunction with World Prematurity Day and Prematurity Awareness Month, the March of Dimes released its annual Premature Birth Report Card, a measurement of the country’s and each state’s progress in eliminating preterm birth. Ohio has received a “C” grade the past three years with an unchanged preterm birth rate of 12.1% compared to the national average of 11.4% and the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6%. In an effort to reduce prematurity rates, the March of Dimes has established five prematurity research centers throughout the country, including the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative.  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center serves as the coordinating site for this state-wide collaborative effort to discover the unknown causes of preterm birth.  The Perinatal Institute is also working hard to reduce prematurity within our local community through the efforts of Cradle Cincinnati.

Throughout the month of November, you may check out World Prematurity related news and information at the March of Dimes WPD site and on the World Prematurity Day Facebook page.  And to show your support, wear purple on November 17th!

Joanne Chappell is the Director of Operations for the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.