November is Prematurity Awareness Month.
Did you know that 1 out of every 8 babies will be born premature and that premature birth increased 20% between 1990 and 2006? How about the fact that 50% of all neurological disorders in children are related to premature birth?
Many of these premature babies will remain hospitalized, fighting for their lives, for weeks or months before they are able to go home. Even then, some of these babies will be sent home with countless medications, apnea monitors and oxygen. Some will have life long disability and disease. Some will die.
Here is the link to Jacob's story if you want to familiarize yourself with my son's struggle for survival and his miraculous journey to that of a healthy and thriving 2.5 year old. Jacob is my miracle baby. Born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 lb 7 oz and just 11.5 inches long, Jacob had less than a 50% chance of survival and an 80% chance of physical or mental disability. Today he is healthy, thriving and free of all physical and mental disabilities. We were lucky.
I thank God every day for Jacob and the fact that he is still here with us, but unfortunately not all babies are as lucky as Jacob and not all parents are as lucky as we are. For every ailment that Jacob overcame another baby succumbed to it. For every baby that lost their battle while we were in the NICU, eventually another premature baby arrived to take his/her place.
Fortunately, there is help for premature babies and that help has a name. The March of Dimes. If it weren't for the generous donations to the March of Dimes, or the organization itself, Jacob may very well not be here today.
Thanks to a research grant in the 1980's, a scientist by the name of T. Allen Merritt was able to develop artificial surfactant, a soapy substance that helps the alveoli in the lungs inflate and keep from collapsing. Since artificial surfactant was developed in the 80's the number of babies born each year that die due to Respiratory Distress Syndrome has dropped from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000! Jacob is alive today because of artificial surfactant.
Because of these strides in the fight against prematurity, we enrolled Jacob in a study for premature infants, born between 24 and 28 weeks, on the day he was born. He will be followed until he is 7 years old so that Neonatologists can follow his progress and learn new ways to save the lives of those born too soon. You can help too!
I will be blogging all month long about Prematurity and ways that YOU can help make a difference and fight against prematurity. Stay tuned for more information later this month on The March for Babies!
May Photo A Day Challenge 2017
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