A Woman’s Perspective: Dedicated to Healthy Babies and Moms Worldwide
As a longtime women’s health-care provider committed to the vision and mission of the March of Dimes, I was deeply honored to be invited to participate in the March of Dimes Birth Conference in Southern California, and to sit on one its expert panels. Our panel was focused on key ways to build strong perinatal healthcare teams, strategies and tools to improve outcomes for mother, newborn and family as a whole. I also presented my 14 years of hospital-wide vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) delivery data, which shows that VBAC is not only safe, but also saves money and positively impacts the family. I was excited to share this study and its findings with the 250 to 300 nurses and physicians and related disciplines attending. With approximately 380,000 babies born prematurely every year in the United States (15 million globally), and with premature birth continuing to be the No. 1 killer of babies worldwide — the conference continues the organization’s long history of presenting premier healthcare research and scientific dialogue, making sure babies get the strongest start possible, with consistent improvement over time of maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Cognizant there is no single solution to preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, it is important to note the preterm birth rate in the United States has fallen for the sixth consecutive year, due in large part to the nonprofit’s ongoing research and stellar women and baby programs.
For the first time, the conference encouraged interdisciplinary hospital teams to participate together, as fostering a strong, healthy and communicative team is a proven way to deliver the highest level of care to mothers and infant. Conference presenters and panel participants were focused on obstetric, neonatal and perinatal advances, research, best practices and quality improvements. Emphasis was placed on team building and the use of evidence to encourage best practice in the delivery of quality care. Topics included reducing Caesarean birth rates, addressing maternal mental health, newborn screening and neonatal palliative care. With the average medical cost for a healthy baby now at $4,389, and the average medical cost for a premature baby at $54,194, there is a clarion call to action to know more and support the March of Dimes. Founded in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, its earliest grants were in basic science, virology and medicine, stimulating research in the sciences which led to the development of the polio vaccines.
In 1958, the mission of the March of Dimes changed to birth defects prevention. Since then, the nonprofit has supported research into the cellular and molecular basis of genetic diseases, developmental processes and abnormalities, and the epidemiology of premature birth to improve medical diagnosis and develop treatments for a wide range of birth defects and developmental disorders.
Go to www.marchofdimes.org to see how you can get involved as a volunteer or partner.
Below are photos of Dr. La Follette attending the birth of her grandchild. Photography credit: Ian Bates Photography.