Tag Archives: March of Dimes

childbirth

Arizona achieves substantial reduction in preterm birth

Nearly 1,000 babies were spared the health consequences of an early birth and potentially $52.7 million in health care and societal costs were avoided in Arizona, according to the March of Dimes.  Based on 2012 preliminary data, Arizona has reduced its rate of preterm birth from a rate of 12.7% in 2009 to 11.6% in 2012 — an 8.7% reduction. Arizona Department of Health Services and March of Dimes Arizona Chapter will today receive the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership Award, for lowering their preterm birth rates by more than 8 percent since 2009.  Arizona’s long-term target of a premature birth rate is 9.6 percent by 2020.

“This award reflects a team effort between March of Dimes, the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Perinatal Trust as well as our health care organizations and agencies that have joined us to fight premature birth in Arizona,” Will Humble, Director, Arizona Department of Health Services.

The Virginia Apgar Award is given to recognize states that accepted and met a challenge from the March of Dimes and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent between 2009 and 2014.  “This progress shows that when infant health becomes a leadership priority, significant progress is possible and families and babies benefit,” says Dr. Paul E. Jarris, executive director of ASTHO.

The award is named in honor of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant’s health at birth, and who served as vice president for medical affairs of the March of Dimes.

Health officials in Arizona are worked closely with March of Dimes staff and volunteers on the “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” educational campaign, which urges hospitals, health care providers, and patients to follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines and reduce medically unnecessary elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy.  The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing.

The March of Dimes says that if every state met the 8 percent challenge, it would push the nation’s preterm birth rate down to about 11 percent, giving an estimated 40,000 more babies a healthy start in life. Such a change could save about $2 billion in health care and socio-economic costs, the March of Dimes says.

Preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report.  It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life.  Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive.  Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects.  About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted the March of Dimes life saving research and education. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com/arizona or nacersano.org.

childbirth

Arizona Community Foundation awards $25K to AFHP

The Arizona Community Foundation has awarded the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP) a $25,000 grant to implement a statewide public awareness and education campaign for young women about the importance of taking B vitamin folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Research consistently shows that the highest rate of unintended pregnancies is among women 18 to 24, a population with the lowest awareness of the benefits of folic acid and its role in preventing birth defects.  Folic acid has been proven highly effective preventing birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs), which affect the brain and spine.

AFHP will use the funds to activate the Project B Aware campaign, first piloted in 2010 in Phoenix-area high schools by the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter and the Arizona Department of Health Services through a one-time federal grant.

The result of the pilot program was a 50 percent increase in knowledge about folic acid among participating high school students.

“Young women, particularly those who are low-income, are at high risk of unplanned pregnancies and at higher risk of having a baby born with an NTD due to their lack of knowledge about folic acid,” said AFHP CEO Brenda “Bré” Thomas.  “Despite being described as an ‘astounding public health silver bullet’ by a 2008 Gallup poll, only 39 percent of women ages 18 to 45 take folic acid daily.”

Research shows that lack of awareness and lack of advice in recommending foliate supplements before and during pregnancies is the primary reason young women don’t take folic acid.

“This important funding from the Arizona Community Foundation will enable us to use the previously created March of Dimes Folic Acid 400 curriculum to reach a much broader statewide audience with this critical health information,” Thomas said.
AFHP will use the March of Dimes-developed curriculum that has been adapted for teens.
The Project B Aware program includes a folic acid pre-test administered to all students and teachers, a PowerPoint presentation about folic acid with interactive student participation, a post-test, a list of foliate-rich foods and information about the importance of taking folic acid daily, and a survey to assess the presentation.

AFHP will recruit and train folic acid educators, identify and coordinate program presentations at specific high schools and administer the pre-and-post tests.  The program ends in April 2014.  AFHP will partner with Kappa Delta Chi sorority to provide the folic acid education.

AFHP expects to complete presentations to approximately 1,400 students.
For more information about the Arizona Family Health Partnership and Project B Aware, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org or call (602) 258-5777 in Maricopa County and (888) 272-5652 outside Maricopa County.

childbirth

Banner Health earns Performance Excellence Award

Banner Health’s pioneering clinical work to reduce the elective delivery of babies has been recognized with a Showcase in Excellence Award as part of the Arizona Performance Excellence Award Program sponsored by the Arizona Quality Alliance (AQA).

Banner Health’s entry, “Reducing Elective Deliveries Less than 39 Weeks,” was recognized for specific process excellence that demonstrates innovation, cutting-edge approach, excellence in comparison to competitors or peers, or overall exceptional performance.

This improvement work has been guided by the leaders of Banner Health’s OB Clinical Performance Group who implemented the clinical practice discouraging elective deliveries under 39 weeks.

Since the practice was put in place some 18 months ago, Banner Health has reduced the overall number of deliveries less than 39 weeks by 10 percent or 3,000 babies a year. Before the work began, deliveries less than 39 weeks were approximately 34 percent of total deliveries and have now decreased to 24 percent.

The Banner Health initiative, supported by March of Dimes and other respected health care organizations, applies to the 30,000 deliveries in the 19 Banner hospitals that provide obstetrical care. A full-term pregnancy is more than the perceived nine months. It is closer to 10 months, or more specifically 39-40 weeks. Ongoing research and national studies have identified specific health advantages for babies who are born after 39 weeks gestation. In addition, eliminating elective deliveries before 39 weeks is supported by American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and The Joint Commission.

The annual Performance Excellence Award Program recognizes organizations for excellence in quality, performance and outcomes. The program, modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige Award criteria, provides not only an opportunity for recognition, but also valuable feedback on where an organization is positioned on the quality continuum.

Awards will be presented on Feb. 5, 2013 at the Chaparral Suites Resort.