AUGUSTA, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March of Dimes has announced a $30,870 grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to help prevent premature birth and improve the health of moms and babies.
Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the U.S., and babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the toll on families, economic costs for prematurity are estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make smoking cessation available to additional women in Maine by supporting programs throughout the state. The grant will provide smoking cessation services to pregnant women because research has shown that babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to have birth defects, have a low birthweight or be born too soon.
“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and services for thousands of moms, to help them have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes. “The March of Dimes applauds Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for its dedication to better health for American families and their continued support of our mission to help give every baby a fighting chance.”
The $30,870 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in Maine. Through its Healthy Generations program, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues, among them, reducing the incidence of low birthweight babies and engaging mothers in prenatal care.
The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal and infant health. Most recently, in 2015-2016, a $1 million from Anthem Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s parent foundation, helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to 6,600 women, including those reached by smoking cessation programs in three states.
“Smoking cessation is one way to help ensure the health of moms and babies, and while we have made significant progress in this area, it’s critical we continue to strengthen programs and further our reach to different areas of the community,” said Dr. Jeffrey Holmstrom, senior clinical officer for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. “We’re proud to team with the March of Dimes in its efforts to drive cutting-edge research, treatment and outreach to give every baby a healthy start in life.”
The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, seeks to raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth to 8.1 percent of births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030.
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.