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Your Voice is Needed: Worldwide Prematurity Awareness and Advocacy

November 17th is World Prematurity Day– a great time to raise our voices and advocate for the babies and families we serve.

Per the March of Dimes, the preterm birth rate in the United States has increased for the second year, rising 2 percent to 9.8 percent in 2016. Some states have done better than others in either maintaining or decreasing their rate of prematurity.

My home state of Ohio received a D rating (yikes!) on the 2017 Premature Birth Report Card. Learn more about your state (and city) here. What’s equally disturbing is that, “this year’s Report Card also reveals major racial/ethnic and geographic disparities signifying that babies have a higher chance of a preterm birth based simply on race and ZIP code.”

Premature birth is still the #1 leading cause of death in children under 5 worldwide. The 15 million premature babies around the world need a legion of advocates. If you’re one of the thousands reading this article, you’re among them.

Most days, your advocacy shows up in real time – every shift, diaper change, feeding, assessment, intervention, conversation with a family, and every new tiny patient that works his way into your heart.

This month, use your voice/social media to raise awareness for babies in a different way. Share the statistics, the gaps in healthcare, and the concern you have for the rise in prematurity rates with your colleagues, friends, people sitting next to you on the plane(!), and/or politicians. March of Dimes makes it easy to gather and share the info.

As neonatal professionals, you already do so much. However, few people on the planet can translate the needs of premature infants and families as clearly and authentically as you can.

Your voice is needed. Your participation is meaningful.