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  Children’s National Hosts Surgeon General and March of Dimes to Raise Awareness About Prematurity
November 19, 2010

Washington, DC—To mark Prematurity Awareness Day, Children’s National Medical Center hosted a press conference with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, March of Dimes President Jennifer Howse, and chief of Neonatology Billie Short.

The event coincides with the release of the 3rd annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, which grades all states and the District of Columbia against the Healthy People 2010 goals.

The District of Columbia and eights states saw improvements in the rates of preterm birth, but the United States has a high rate of preterm birth compared to top scoring states and most industrialized countries.

“I’ve been in the field of neonatology for nearly 30 years, and during that time, we’ve advanced tremendously,” said Dr. Short. “But the reality is that too many babies are still born too soon and premature birth is the leading cause of infant death, so we must do more in the way of prevention.”

Children’s National is home to a state-of-the-art 54-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Children’s NICU is the region’s only Level III C, the highest distinction available by the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. Children’s National offers innovative therapies to treat newborns with serious health complications, including whole-body cooling and ECMO.

In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine.

To read more about the Premature Birth Report Card, visit the March of Dimes website.

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