In response to the significant rise in premature births, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority chapters across the country are planning to hold prematurity awareness events on during the month of November. Zeta members in more than 850 communities across the America will conduct prematurity awareness activities in houses of worship and congregations. Worshipers will learn more about the infant health crisis that nearly half a million families cope with each year.
This year marks the 20th consecutive year of Zeta’s participation by leading this nationwide grassroots campaign. Here in Natchitoches, participating congregations include: Christian Baptist Church. The March of Dimes is leading a World Prematurity Day observance on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Prematurity affects one out of ten babies born in the U.S. today. The numbers are even more alarming for African-American babies who have a one-in-six chance of being born too soon. In addition to the emotional toll, there is a tangible cost to premature birth as well. Average hospital charges in the United States for the most severe cases of prematurity were nearly 60 times higher than the charges for newborn stays without complications. Prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns (in the first month of life) and many of the babies who survive leave the hospital with lifelong health conditions or developmental disabilities that will place an additional financial burden on the family.
That’s why the March of Dimes is leading a national effort to save babies from premature birth by funding research to find the causes and by supporting local programs that offer hope and help to families with a baby in intensive care. As part of that effort, November is designated as Prematurity Awareness Month® to remind the public that premature birth is a crisis and to bring people together to help give all babies their nine months. Despite its prevalence, many families endure the trauma of a premature birth, and all too often infant death, privately and silently. Most people are unaware of the scope of this common and costly health problem.
“We want to help the March of Dimes educate the public,” said Josephine Winder, Mu Omega Zeta Chapter President. “So, we are bringing this vital information to the places where we worship, one of the cores of community life. This issue affects so many families in Natchitoches, it just seems like the right thing to do.”
The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. For more information on Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., go online to www.zphib1920.org.