Coming soon in November is, Prematurity Awareness Month, which aims to draw national attention to the number of American babies, born before their 37th completed week of gestation. There is a need to educate the public on this issue as the numbers, although slightly improved recently, still leave the US ranking poorly amongst other developed nations when it comes to premature births and subsequent infant deaths. According to the March of Dimes (www.marchofdimes.org) in 2015 the prematurity rate for Caucasians was 9.1%, 9.3% for Hispanics, 10.4% for Native Americans and 13.4% for African Americans, which underlines the continued racial disparities in outcomes for people of color. Around 500,000 babies are born too soon in the USA every year despite the high level of medical expenditures for maternity care, and leaving the annual costs in the billions for managing the repercussions of prematurity on infants that do survive.
Grassroots organization, the National Perinatal Task Force (www.perinataltaskforce.com), aims to show support for families of preemies or those at greater risk for preterm birth, low-birth weight babies or infant loss by identifying access points to early and consistent prenatal care, offering support from doulas, mentors and community-based providers and by providing resources both locally and nationally to ensure that families have postpartum and breastfeeding support, and that all babies THRIVE beyond their first birthday. The Task Force is developing ‘Perinatal Safe Spots’ manned by volunteers, in areas of particular concern for poor birth outcomes.
As part of their Prematurity Awareness campaign Task Force members are asking friends and family to join in by knitting or crocheting a hat for a newborn or premature infant to be delivered to local Neonatal Intensive Care Units or hospital nurseries across the country on January 16, 2017 – Martin Luther King, National Day of Service.
To find out more about how to join the Task Force, start a Perinatal Safe Spot in your area or knit or crochet baby hats for the national campaign, please contact us through the website www.perinataltaskforce.com or www.commonsensechildbirth.org.