ST. LOUIS, Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 10,000 of Missouri's babies are born too soon each year. Now, two organizations are working to give more babies a healthy start in life by supporting a group prenatal care program that has successfully reduced c-sections, preterm births and low-birthweight babies.
Today, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri announced a $100,000 grant from its corporate foundation to the March of Dimes to support a group prenatal care program called CenteringPregnancy® and to help continue Missouri's Broadcasters for Babies public awareness campaign.
CenteringPregnancy is a model of group prenatal care delivery that has successfully reduced c-sections, preterm births and low-birthweight babies. Instead of individual appointments, women who are at similar points of their pregnancies are brought together in small groups of eight to 12. During the approximately 10 appointments, each woman receives a private, standard health assessment from a medical practitioner. What is unique about the program is that the women also learn health skills, participate in a group discussion, and develop a support network with other group members.
"Preterm births are tremendously costly, stressful, and – in many cases – preventable," said Steve Martenet, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri. "By bringing the CenteringPregnancy program to our state we are working to ensure that moms-to-be have access to the care they need which in turn leads to better outcomes for mom and baby alike."
"We are proud to work with the March of Dimes because their programs have been shown to produce positive, measurable results and because they share our commitment to prenatal care and improving health throughout our community," Martenet added.
CenteringPregnancy will be conducted this year at St. Louis University School of Medicine.
Half of the grant – $50,000 – will support the March of Dimes for the Broadcasters for Babies program in the state. This initiative is an awareness and professional education event focused on the most important issues related to maternal and infant health. It features live and recorded announcements and interviews involving families who have experienced preterm birth.
"This grant will help more women have healthy pregnancies and full-term babies, and support the March of Dimes quality improvement initiatives to improve the health of babies by preventing preterm births," said Arron Hamvas, MD, Chapter Program Services Committee Chair; Professor of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, and Director of Clinical Affairs for Newborn Medicine. "By supporting these programs, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation shows that it recognizes the importance of helping expectant mothers access needed health care services."
The CenteringPregnancy grant in Missouri is part of a $1 million grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation's parent company's Foundation to the March of Dimes to improve prenatal care and education and track the results of those efforts in 14 states: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of a lifetime of health challenges, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then.
The grant to the March of Dimes is part of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's corporate foundation's ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health across the country. Through its State Health Index – a state-by-state compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing low birth weights and engaging mothers in prenatal care in their first trimester are major focus areas for the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
About the March of Dimes
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.
About the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri
In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name for RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri is available at www.anthem.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.
SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri