GREENVILLE – Greenville Kiwanis Club members learned during their April 27 meeting that Ohio ranks at the top for premature deaths of infants in the United States.
Jackie Allen, executive director for the Greater Miami Valley March of Dimes, spoke to Kiwanis, promoting the county’s March for Babies Walk set for April 30 at the Darke County Fairgrounds, as well as providing education on the non-profit’s history and programs.
“One out of 10 babies are born pre-mature in the United States,” Allen said. “One of nine babies in Ohio are born pre-mature.”
Allen went on to explain that “50 percent of the time we know why” citing mothers who smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs, who are low income and do not receive appropriate pre-natal care fall into risk for a pre-mature birth.
“What is the cause for the other 50 percent?” she asked. “We still don’t know all the reasons.”
Which is why, Allen said, the March of Dimes plans yearly fundraisers, to be able to conduct research and provide assistance to families and medical professionals dealing with babies born prematurely, as well as those born with birth defects.
The March of Dimes began in 1938, when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt revealed that he suffered from polio and asked every household in the U.S. to send a dime to the White House to help eradicate the disease.
For many, this request was the first knowledge they had of their president being confined to a wheelchair. Roosevelt’s plea was accepted and the March of Dimes was born – with polio at the top of their research list. Once the goal was met to rid the U.S. of polio, organizers decided to take on other birth defects and primarily pre-mature births and infant mortality.
According to Allen, 76 cents of every dollar donated to the March of Dimes goes to research and programs offered by the non-profit organization.
The goal of today’s March of Dimes is to work so that “every baby is born healthy,” Allen explained.
Over the ensuing years, the March of Dimes has helped to develop many programs and procedures used today, including the Apgar score given at the time of birth, hospital NICUs (ne-natal intensive care unit), the isolette (beds for premature babies), the ultra-sound test, and PKU testing, to name a few.
The March of Dimes works with several research hospitals throughout the U.S., including Rainbow Children’s at Case-Western University in Cleveland, Cincinnati Children’s, and The Ohio State University hospital. More than $6 million in research grants were awarded in 2015, Allen said.
Saturday’s March for Babies in Darke County will be a “celebration for raising money,” noted Allen, inviting all to either walk or volunteer at the event. “It’s not too late.”
The Darke County March for Babies will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 30 at the fairgrounds, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. This year’s walk is being chaired by Kristina Knapp Bradley of Dave Knapp Ford Lincoln, one of the events gold sponsors along with General Electric, Greenville Technology Incorporated, Speedway, and Eby-Brown.
The family-friendly event will include a one-mile walk inside the fairgrounds, with a 5-mile route through Greenville, as well as family activities such as face painting, games, crafts, a DJ and free food for paid walkers.