November 10, 2011
A Letter To The Community:
Pre-Maturity Day Will Raise Awareness About Premature Births
By Syd Bersante
President, St. Joseph Medical Center
Every parent-to-be wants to have a healthy baby, but this doesn’t always happen. More than half a million babies (1 in 8 of all newborns) in the U.S. are born prematurely every year and, worldwide, that figure totals nearly 13 million. In Washington State alone, more than 9,100 babies are born too soon annually.
Because these babies are born prematurely, they are at risk for lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, lung problems, vision and hearing loss, and learning disabilities. Premature birth is also the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.
Awareness is the first step to solving this serious problem. We all must and can do more to help babies experience healthy births.
On Nov.17, the March of Dimes will join organizations in Europe, Africa and Australia to observe the first World Pre-maturity Day and focus attention on premature birth and the serious impacts on babies, families and society. I encourage everyone to learn about the efforts that are underway to reduce premature births at home and abroad, and to consider supporting this important work. Learn how at the March of Dimes website: www.marchofdimes.com.
Every baby deserves a strong and healthy start to life.
(Syd Bersante is president of Franciscan Health System’s St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and chair of the Pierce County Chapter of the March of Dimes.)