Preventing prematurity – In the Spotlight

Preventing prematurity – In the Spotlight – Brief Article

Kimberly Schworm

Researchers and doctors can’t pinpoint the reasons for nearly half of the 476,000 premature births that occur in this country each year. Even pregnant women who avoid risk factors, such as smoking or illicit drug use, can go into preterm labor, according to the March of Dimes, which recently launched a five-year campaign to prevent prematurity (see ‘Born Too Soon” on pg. 70).

Currently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends about $104 million annually on prematurity research, but March of Dimes staff, advisers and volunteers have begun lobbying members of Congress to allocate an increase of about $50 million over the next five years. “[The current allocation] is simply not enough,” says Marina L. Weiss, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs for the March of Dimes. “There are lots of promising areas of research, but only a fraction of study requests can be granted due to constrained resources.”

Finding the money needed won’t be easy, Weiss admits. While President Bush is pushing for an extra $700 million for the NIH in 2004, he’d like nearly half of that to fund the group that researches vaccines and treatments for smallpox, anthrax and other bioterrorism threats. “It’s important that somebody pay more attention to the small part of the budget needed to study prematurity,” Weiss says.

Volunteers and donations to the March of Dimes are essential. To learn how you can become an advocate, call your local chapter, visit www.marchofdimes.com or call 888-663-4637.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group