Since its foundation in 1938 by President Roosevelt, the March of Dimes has been an integral part of keeping people healthy, curing diseases, and staying at the cutting edge of medical research. March of Dimes had strong beginnings, with their research the main contributor to Dr. Jonas Salk’s invention of the polio vaccine. March of Dimes continues to work to eradicate the causes of many health problems. March of Dimes is focusing in on early development, going after birth defects and their causes, expanding newborn screenings and tests, using surfactants for premature babies, and increasing dosage of folic acid for expecting mothers. Since the beginning of its prematurity campaign in 2003, March of Dimes has been committed to discovering the causes and solutions for premature births. March of Dimes works to support advocacy for policies that help mothers and their children and promote healthcare for expecting women and babies; they also work to increase prenatal knowledge and promote programs and tools to assist in healthy pregnancies. March of Dimes’ March for Babies fundraiser promotes a world where society supports every family, which spells more healthy pregnancies and more healthy babies.
In alignment with March for Babies, LaGrange and Troup County’s society is looking to support every family as well. This showed true at the March for Babies Kickoff Lunch at the Callaway Conference Center this past Friday. Spokespeople for many local businesses and many people who have been directly influenced by March for Babies were in attendance. Matt Mallory, of Mallory Agency in LaGrange was emcee for the afternoon. He shared the story of his own children, all three of whom were born premature. His twin girls, Mc-Crae and Maddie were born between 23 and 24 weeks. They stayed at Northside Hospital in the NICU for 9 weeks. “We’re one of the lucky ones. This is why we do [March for Babies]”.
Prematurity is one of the biggest dangers to infant life. It increases the chance of health problems, lifelong health conditions, and death. With 1 in 10 babies born premature, 80,000 per year in the U.S. alone, every person has known someone who has been affected by the scary reality of a baby being born too soon. March for Babies is looking to scale this number back by helping more babies make it to full term. They have already made huge discoveries, like the Ohio Collaborative which is the largest genome-wide study of pre-term birth. Through this study, they’ve already identified six genes related to premature delivery. Dr. Lacy Tumambing, pediatrician at the Children’s Clinic and the 2018 March for Babies Chair, has been affected by pregnancy loss and has known those affected by pre-term birth. “We do this for them” said Tumambing.
Last year, March for Babies raise of $80 million for its cause. They are hoping to surpass that number this coming May. Carla Starling, Director for March for Babies, recognized the 2017 Circle of Champions, those individuals who raised more than $1,000 for the cause. Susan Newsom, Sewon Team Captain, gave everyone information about becoming a team captain through the March for Babies mobile app and marchforbabies .org. She told the crowd why she works with March for Babies, “We’re able to make the future better for the next generation. Healthy moms and strong babies are a priority for all of us”. Newsom’s neighbor and long time friend had gave birth to a little girl 12 weeks premature. Her daughter is now a healthy and strong at 17 years old thanks to March for Babies. “I think of her and I remember my reason for commitment to the cause” said Susan Newsom.
To end the presentation that day, Matt Mallory introduced the 2018 Ambassador Family. The Ambassador families have been directly affected by the work done by March for Babies, and share their hardship and their triumph. This year, the Truitt family would represent Troup County. In March of 2017, Lindsey Truitt was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with preeclampsia. After six days of around-theclock care at the Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, the NICU doctor informed Lindsey and her husband Marius that Lindsey would have to deliver her daughter at only 25 weeks and 5 days. They were facing the toughest odds with only a 75% chance of survival for little Stella. With a startling birth weight of only 1 lb. 10 oz. Stella was a fighter, and after eight long days, Lindsey was finally able to hold her little girl, taped to her chest to avoid any jostling. Stella faced a lot her first few months, with a heart murmur and Retinopathy of Prematurity in both eyes. 66 days in the NICU after her birth, Stella was cleared to go home for the first time. The Truitts attribute their daughter’s survival to the knowledge of the staff that cared for both Lindsey and Stella, and to research that has been done on prematurity by March for Babies.
March for Babies not only changes lives, it saves them. The 2018 March for Babies will take place Saturday, May 5th at Hollis Hand Elementary School. If you are interested in becoming a team leader and volunteering with March for Babies, visit their website at www.marchforbabies. org.