WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One in ten babies in the United States is born prematurely, placing 380,000 newborns each year at increased risk of death, medical complications, and lifelong health challenges. To improve infant health and reduce unnecessary health care costs, the Anthem Foundation has announced a one-year, $1,004,186 grant to the March of Dimes.
Preterm birth costs the U.S. more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death. Babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. The March of Dimes launched its Prematurity Campaign in 2003. The goals of the campaign are to raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth to 8.1 percent of live births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030.
The Anthem Foundation funding will support March of Dimes community grants for CenteringPregnancy®, a group prenatal care model, in nine states, smoking cessation programs in two states and Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait community programs in three states.
"This grant will enable the March of Dimes to help more moms get prenatal care and more babies to get a healthy start in life," said Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, PhD, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes. "We thank the Anthem Foundation for its dedication to better health for American families and their continued support of the March of Dimes mission."
The $1,004,186 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Anthem 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 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 birthweight and engaging mothers in prenatal care are major focus areas for the Anthem Foundation.
"Premature birth is the leading cause of death of babies and a leading cause of disabilities for children. However, effective prenatal care, education, and outreach can produce better health and help mothers have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies," said Sam Nussbaum, MD, chief medical officer at Anthem, Inc. "We're proud to support the March of Dimes and their efforts to drive cutting-edge research, treatment and outreach to help ensure mothers have access to the care and information they need during their pregnancy to give every baby a healthy start in life."
The Anthem Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make the CenteringPregnancy, a group prenatal care model, available to thousands of women by supporting programs in Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia. The grant will provide smoking cessation services to women in Florida (Tampa) and Wisconsin because research has shown that babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to have birth defects, have a low birthweight or be born too soon. The grant also will support Health Babies are Worth the Wait community programs in Kentucky, New Jersey and New York, which integrates public and clinical health, improves systems of care, and reduces preterm birth through a range of interventions including both smoking cessation programs and CenteringPregnancy among others.
The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Anthem Foundation and March of Dimes. Most recently, in 2012 a $2 million grant helped the March of Dimes provide prenatal care to more than 8,000 women via CenteringPregnancy and to roll out a quality improvement toolkit to 12 hospitals in California that together deliver more than 39,000 babies annually.
About Anthem Foundation
The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. 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 disease states and medical conditions 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 year-round Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates' pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at http://anthemfoundation.tumblr.com.
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With offices in every major market 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.
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SOURCE March of Dimes