Prematurity is the leading killer of America's newborns. Those who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.

Prematurity has been escalating steadily and alarmingly over the past two decades. In 2004,
more than 500,000 infants were born prematurely, the highest number ever reported for the U.S. In 2005, the United States as a society paid at least $26.2 billion in economic costs associated with preterm birth (medical and educational expenses, loss in productivity).

Preterm delivery can happen to any pregnant woman. The causes of nearly half of all preterm births are unknown.

The March of Dimes has taken on this devastating problem—to find out what causes it and how it can be stopped.

About the Prematurity Campaign
The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign is a multimillion-dollar research, awareness and education campaign to help families have healthier babies. The campaign:

* Funds research to find the causes of premature birth

* Encourages investment of public and private research dollars to identify causes and to identify and test promisng interventions

* Educates women about risk-reduction strategies and the signs and symptoms of premature labor

* Provides information and emotional support to families affected by prematurity

* Advocates to expand access to health care coverage to improve maternity care and infant health outcomes

* Helps health care providers to improve risk detection and address risk factors

* Generates concern and action around the problem

In 2006, the campaign achieved a major milestone: Congress passed, and the President signed, the PREEMIE Act, which authorizes increased federal support for research and education on prematurity. Work continues on appropriation of funding to implement the act's provisions.

1. Helping fund research and awareness programs by supporting MOD will significantly reduce prematurity.

2. 9 months of a healthy pregnancy is the best gift you can give a future baby.