March of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for maternal and infant health, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. In recognition of this achievement, Governor Mark Dayton has declared Sunday, April 28 March of Dimes Day in Minnesota.
About 4 million babies are born in the United States each year, and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.
Communities across Minnesota are coming together to find the next breakthrough – an effective way to prevent premature birth. Thousands of friends, families and co-workers will march for health babies at the annual March for Babies in 18 locations across the state. The largest is Sunday, April 28 at Como Park in St. Paul. Additional March for Babies events will be held Saturday, April 27 in Duluth, Rochester and Faribault. The Mankato March for Babies is Sunday, April 28. Walks in Brainerd, Marshall, Monticello, New Ulm and Virginia will be held the first two weekends in May. Friends, families and co-workers can sign up at www.marchforbabies.org. Additional March for Babies events have already taken place in Austin/Albert Lea, Bemidji, Grand Rapids, St. Cloud and Winona.
In FDR’s day, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year. The March of Dimes got its name when comedian Eddie Cantor asked Americans to send their dimes to FDR at the White House to help defeat polio. The foundation later funded the development of the Salk vaccine which was tested in 1954 and licensed a year later, as
well as the Sabin vaccine which became available in 1962. Nearly all babies born today still receive a lifesaving polio vaccine.
Throughout its history, the March of Dimes has supported many important research milestones that have benefitted newborn and child health.
For example, in 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick identified the double helix structure of DNA, announcing, “We have found the secret of life.” Watson had received a grant from the March of Dimes that helped support his research on “protein patterns.” The team’s work won the Nobel Prize in 1962 and paved the way for modern genetic medicine, including the mapping of the human genome.
Today, the March of Dimes is hard at work to prevent the epidemic of premature birth, which affects nearly a half million babies every year. It established the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine that is bringing together the brightest minds from many disciplines -- geneticists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, engineers, computer scientists and many others -- to work together and find answers to explain and prevent preterm birth. The March of Dimes current research portfolio consists of about $100 million in grants to investigators throughout the United States and in about a dozen countries worldwide.
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Lawrence Massa, President and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association, is serving as chair for the 2013 March for Babies. He is raising awareness and funds to advance the scientific research and educational programs at the core of the March of Dimes efforts to prevent preterm birth and birth defects.
“For Minnesota hospitals, the care and safety of our patients is our highest priority and the mission of the March of Dimes aligns so well with the work of the Minnesota Hospital Association,” said Massa. “My work with the March of Dimes is a real honor – especially during the Foundation’s milestone 75th anniversary year. March for Babies gives everyone in our community the chance to work together for stronger, healthier babies and make a difference in the lives of millions of babies.”
The Minnesota Hospital Association is a large supporter of the most recent education push from the March of Dimes called Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait. The campaign educates moms babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks and if your pregnancy is healthy, wait for labor
to begin on its own. MHA is providing March of Dimes educational flyers, DVDs and public service announcements as part of its patient safety work.
Additional investments in Minnesota include NICU Family Support at St. Cloud Hospital and the newly opened program at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. NICU Family Support provides information and comfort to families with a baby in the newborn intensive care unit. March of Dimes also funds community programs in Minnesota to improve the health of babies.
March for Babies at Como Park on Sunday, April 28 will include music, entertainment, food and plenty of games for kids of all ages. American Idol finalist Reed Grimm will take the stage at 11:30 am. The goal is to raise $1.8 million for stronger, healthier babies.
The 2013 March for Babies is sponsored locally by Medica and the Minnesota Hospital Association. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy’s, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal, and United Airlines. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.