Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Day

Each year in the US one in eight babies is born prematurely. Worldwide, 13 million babies are born too soon every year. Prematurity is the leading killer of America's newborns and those who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.

Today is the first ever World Prematurity Day!

For those of you new here, my son Jacob was born at 24w5d in 2008 weighing only 1 lb 7 oz and 11.5 inches long. He spent 4 long months in the NICU before he could come home to be with us. Those first few days in the NICU were numbing and I don't know what we would have done without our NICU nurses and the March of Dimes representatives. Until you walk into a NICU and see your baby attached to tubes and wires that are keeping him alive you will never quite understand. Those four months were the longest months of our lives and we lived in fear every day that we might never get to bring our baby boy home.

The March of Dimes uses campaign funds to research and find the causes of premature birth, and to identify and test promising interventions. Premature babies are at risk of many serious medical complications. One of the most common of these is respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Babies with RDS struggle to breathe because their immature lungs do not produce enough surfactant, a protein that keeps small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. March of Dimes grantees helped develop surfactant therapy, which was introduced in 1990. Since then, deaths from RDS have been reduced by two-thirds. Jacob received surfactant at birth and would not be here today if it was not for the grant that was used to develop surfactant therapy.

Today we wear purple to honor all babies born too soon and to help bring awareness to prematurity. Please visit the March of Dimes website to make a donation or find other ways you can help!

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