Runners and walkers will be out in force this weekend to show their support for the March of Dimes.
Saturday will mark the 25th annual March for Babies in Troup County. March of Dimes Senior Communications Director, Carla Starling, said this year will be special since the Little White House is the “birth place” of the organization, which was founded in 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“We’re all about strong, healthier babies,” said Starling. ” We want to improve the health of all babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. We carry this out through our mission by research, community service, education, and advocacy.”
Starling said many people don’t realize the impact the March of Dimes has had over the years. The organization was responsible for vaccinating millions of children from polio. As early as the 1990s, the group helped develop the surfactant therapy, which is given to premature babies to allow their lungs to fully develop. Recently, the March of Dimes partnered with hospitals around the country, including West Georgia Health, to set a guideline that no babies would electively be born before 39 weeks, unless there was a medical problem with either the baby or the mother.
“We want every baby to have the full 39 weeks, and arrive healthy,” Starling said.
According to the March of Dimes website, more than 450,000 babies are born early each year. Starling said the premature births can lead to a host of problems, including blindness, mental retardation, and death. But she said some progress is being made.
“One in nine babies are born prematurely, which is down from one in eight,” she explained. “It’s progress.”
According to the March of Dimes, more than four million babies benefited from the organization’s education, research, vaccines, and breakthroughs in 2013. Around 23 million dollars was invested in research to defeat premature birth and other infant health problems.
Starling hopes to raise $83,000 dollars from Saturday’s March for Babies. She said all the money goes to fund grants, that are given to research programs and hospitals.
“We provide services every baby uses and support whatever other babies may need.” Starling said. “We also have educational pieces and videos for mothers on nutrition, and the signs of premature labor all on our web site. “
The March for Babies will kick off on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with registration and team photos at Hollis Hand Elementary School. The walk will start at 10 a.m. For more information or to give a donation, call the March of Dimes at 706-845-0708, or visit their web site www.marchofdimes.com.