ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- March of Dimes, the leader in the fight for the health of all moms and babies, today announced their latest collaboration with the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., aimed at reducing preterm births and improving maternal and infant health. Premature birth is the largest contributor to infant death in the U.S., and pregnancy-related death has more than doubled over the past 25 years.
"According to The National Center for Health Statistics, this year marks the third consecutive increase in preterm births after steady declines over the previous seven years," says Lisa F. Waddell, MD, MPH, March of Dimes deputy medical officer. "Among non-Hispanic black women and Hispanic women, the preterm birth rate increase was even greater. We applaud the Anthem Foundation for its dedication to expanding access to evidence-based preterm birth and maternal health interventions by providing March of Dimes with critical funds to help tackle these alarming trends."
"The Anthem Foundation is focused on helping to improve the health of our communities and increase access to critical programs that can have a positive impact on all Americans," said Karen Shea, vice president maternal and child services at Anthem. "Through our ongoing collaboration with March of Dimes, we remain committed to helping at-risk mothers by providing funding for programs and services that will encourage and facilitate healthy prenatal practices, creating healthier generations of Americans."
The Anthem Foundation's $1.5 million grant will support March of Dimes' effort to address the urgent health crisis facing mothers and babies in the U.S. and provide vital resources to proven interventions that can assist in preventing premature births and maternal and infant mortality. Specifically the grant will reach pregnant women in communities in 19 states and will target areas with a high volume of preterm births and large health disparity gaps. Programs that will be supported include:
CenteringPregnancy®— A group prenatal care model, will be made available to thousands of women in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. CenteringPregnancy has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of preterm birth especially among women of color. This care model brings together pregnant women with similar due dates to meet for up to ten sessions with each visit lasting 90 minutes to two hours, giving women more time with their provider.
Birth spacing and pregnancy intentionality — Spacing pregnancies less than 18 months apart increases the risk of preterm birth and low birthweight. Programs in California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin will focus on providing reproductive health services to improve birth spacing and manage maternal health.
Smoking cessation programs — Research has shown that babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to have birth defects, low birthweight or be born too soon. Grant funding will support the expansion of smoking cessation programs for pregnant women in Maine and New Hampshire, to decrease a woman's risk of poor birth outcomes.
The grant continues a longstanding relationship between Anthem Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal and infant health. From 2011-2017, Anthem Foundation provided more than $5 million in funding which supported programs reaching more than 36,000 pregnant women across the country -- more than 17,000 of them were reached through CenteringPregnancy.
About March of Dimes March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we stand up for every mom and every baby. Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
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 https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.