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04-09-14-march-babies.gifEvery year in North Carolina, 1 in 8 babies are born premature. Prematurity  is the leading cause of infant death in North Carolina with the highest rate inf African-American and Native American infants, so that is why the March of Dimes sponsors the March for Babies on Saturday, April 12, at 10 a.m., at Methodist University.

“We have been walking since 1970 and have raised more than $2.3 billion for healthier babies,” said Stephanie Benson, Cape Fear Region community director. “Our goal for the 2014 March for Babies campaign is to raise $150,000 through community involvement and mission connected families.”

Benson added that the organization is anticipating 700 to 1,000 families to participate this year. This year’s 2014 March of Dimes national ambassador is Aidan. He was born 12 weeks early weighing just 3 pounds. He is described as an adventurous 6-year-old who loves soccer, baseball and gymnastics. To honor the nurses and doctors who saved his life, he visits the newborn intensive care unit on his birthday every year. Aidan and his parents will travel the country and help raise awareness of premature birth.

“This year we wanted to reach out to the military and I am a military spouse who understands the stress that a military marriage endures,” said Benson. “This family is amazing and they have a heartfelt story to share.” March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit for pregnancy and baby health.

For more than 75 years, the March of Dimes has worked to help babies get a healthy start in life. 76 percent of the money is used for research and programs that support solutions for babies that are born prematurely or have birth defects. Premature babies suffer lifelong consequences such as mental retardation, blindness, learning disabilities and cerebral palsy. The cytomegalovirus (CMV) causes birth defects in 8,000 babies each year. Moms can pass the virus on to their baby before or during birth. The March of Dimes is funding the development of a vaccine that can prevent the infection in women of childbearing age.

The programs educate women on how to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. There is also a great push for newborn screening and health insurance for all women and babies.

The walk is held in 900 communities across the United States and involves more than 7 million people.

“Our walks are a family affair,” said Benson. “Everyone is connected to our mission and there are many ways to support our mission.”

For more information, call Stephanie Benson at 910 778-5670.

Photo: March of Dimes presents March for Babies on Saturday, April 12, at 10 a.m., at Methodist University. 

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