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March of Dimes Honors Prematurity Awareness Month with Events and Activities across Colorado.

Prematurity is Leading Cause of Infant Mortality, Killing One in Three Babies

DENVER -- The March of Dimes Colorado chapter today announced that it has planned a series of events and activities across the state in recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month, a national public health initiative which takes place throughout the month of November.

According to a study issued in October by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of infant deaths in the U.S. in 2002 were attributed to premature births. Previously, that estimate had been 17 percent. Last year alone, premature births accounted for one in eight U.S. births, and have increased 30 percent since 1981. In more than half the cases, the causes of prematurity are not known. In an average year, half a million babies in the U.S. are born too soon. This includes more than 8,000 in Colorado. Annual national hospital charges for premature birth amount to an estimated $16 billion.

By raising awareness of the risks associated with premature birth, the March of Dimes hopes to lessen preterm birth rates.

The following events are scheduled to take place throughout the month of November in honor of Prematurity Awareness Month:

* All month: The Pepsi Center in Denver will be home to a 20-foot, lighted, pink-and-blue cause ribbon adorning the arena's east side.

* All month: The observation tower at Six Flags Elitch Gardens in Denver will be decked out in pink-and-blue lights.

* All month: Grand Junction's Main Street will be home to a special banner that flies in order to raise awareness and generate discussion.

* Saturday, November 4: The Future Business Leaders of America National Fall Leadership Conference at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Denver will feature a prematurity awareness display and a Blue Jeans for Babies dress-down dance, the proceeds of which will benefit the March of Dimes.

* Saturday, November 4 and Thursday, November 9: March of Dimes Signature Chefs events in Grand Junction and the Boulder area, respectively, will give guests a chance to dine at the best tables in town while benefiting March of Dimes prematurity prevention efforts.

* Saturday, November 11: The March of Dimes will participate in a health fair at the Babies R Us store at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, distributing free infant and maternal health education materials to moms-to-be.

* Tuesday, November 14: Employees of The Children's Hospital in Denver will dress in pink and blue to mark national Prematurity Awareness Day.

* Wednesday, November 15: Residents of Grand Junction will celebrate the opening of the new Regal Entertainment multiplex with $1 movie tickets, popcorn and soda. Proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes. The first 2500 guests receive a free prematurity awareness key ring.

* Wednesday, November 15: March of Dimes Jail & Bail in Fort Collins will give local community and business leaders the chance to "do time" for healthy babies while raising money in support of the organization's Prematurity Campaign.

* Tuesday, November 21: The Denver Nuggets and star player Kenyon Martin (preemie dad and March of Dimes ambassador) will host March of Dimes night at the Pepsi Center. The first 5000 fans in the door will receive free prematurity-awareness key rings. This game against the Chicago Bulls will feature special ticket prices for March of Dimes supporters. In addition, a reception hosted for preemie families will include a meet-and-greet with Martin.

* Wednesday, November 29: The March of Dimes will join with leaders in the black community to host a special healthy-baby summit at Denver's Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Entitled "Imagine a worldC*without premature birth," the summit will offer participants the opportunity to learn more about prematurity and help the March of Dimes determine a course of action for the population most impacted by it.

In addition to participating in Prematurity Awareness Month events, Coloradans can also learn more about premature birth by visiting the chapter website at marchofdimes.com/colorado. At this site, pregnant women can get familiar with the signs of preterm labor and parents of preemies can discover financial, emotional and medical resources available to help their babies and families. Opportunities to donate to March of Dimes prematurity prevention programs can also be found on the site.

"There is a lot we don't know about premature birth and what causes it. What we do know is that it is responsible for one-third of infant deaths in this country and is on the rise. We need to find out why," said Daryl Edmonds, chairman of the March of Dimes Colorado chapter board. "We can help mitigate the potential impacts on moms-to-be by educating them on the risks and the signs of preterm labor, and by ensuring that all parents of preemies know what resources are at their fingertips so they can lead the healthiest, most productive lives possible in the midst of tragedy. We call on support from all Coloradans in this fight against prematurity so that we can give all babies their nine months."

To address premature birth, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign in 2003. Over the seven-year campaign, the March of Dimes will invest $75 million nationwide in scientific research and health education.

About the March of Dimes

A national nonprofit health organization founded in 1938, the March of Dimes is dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. To achieve its mission, the organization funds research, community services, education and advocacy. In Colorado, the March of Dimes currently funds $1.7 million in healthy-baby programs. More information is available at marchofdimes.com/colorado.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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