November is Premature Awareness Month

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- November is "Premature Awareness Month".

The March of Dimes decided to kick it off at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Community Director for the March of Dimes, Melissa Gann, says they're doing a lot to work and raise awareness and needed funds.

"We've got a lot of things going on to help raise awareness and funds to fight premature births. We've got the Hope for Healthy Babies Conference. This is just an opportunity for parents or business people, anyone in the community to drop by and get information about how to have a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy. We have several partners here offering information, as well. And the Nettleton High School FBLA is doing their annual "jail and Bail", as well. So, a lot of our community leaders are here doing time for the March of Dimes and going to the slammer for the babies!"

Melissa says the most important thing they can do is get the information out there.

"This is prematurity awareness month so we really want to get the word out that prematurity is the number one killer of newborns. Just in Arkansas in an average week more than one hundred babies are born prematurely. Six babies will die before they reach their first birthday. And this is every week in Arkansas."

But Melissa says without the help of others, the March of Dimes couldn't accomplish all that it has.

"The March of Dimes has been around for more than seven decades, now. We've literally saved the lives of millions of babies. But we couldn't do it without concerned people who are donors and volunteers."

Amanda Thomas has first hand experience with prematurity and is one of the many mothers to receive assistance from the March of Dimes.

Amanda's twin sons were born six weeks premature and she says the help she received from the March of Dimes made all the difference in the world.

"I became pregnant after numerous years of trying. I was put on bed rest at twenty-three weeks. And was rushed to UAMS to have the babies there. They were immediately taken after I had them and placed on ventilators. Had feeding tubes in incubators to keep them warm. And then we underwent a drug therapy that the March of Dimes has worked to help fund for research for their lungs."

Amanda says shortly after the boys were born, she met a case worker for the March of Dimes who was there to help her and her family through it all.

"I met the case worker for March of Dimes, Kristen, and she immediately started giving me information and was a huge support system for my family and I."

Wednesday's fund raising event lasted til one o'clock.

For more information about premature births or about the March of Dimes, you can contact them by calling 870-932-0300 or toll free at 1-800-234-8144.

You can also log onto their website.

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