HUTCHINSON, Kan.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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. Yesterday, March of Dimes received a $50,000 Amerigroup Foundation grant to help prevent premature birth and improve the health of moms and babies. This grant was presented at the Reno County Health Department and mothers and participants of the program were in attendance with their babies.
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.
“Although a lot of progress has been made to prevent premature birth and improve mom and baby health, it’s critical that we continue to ensure programs are available and expanded to reach growing and diverse communities,” said Frank Clepper, president at Amerigroup Kansas. “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 Amerigroup Foundation grant supports the Kansas March of Dimes Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Community Program to prevent preterm birth. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is an initiative that encourages healthy, full-term births through education of women and healthcare providers, quality-improvement initiatives, awareness activities and community partnerships. The Kansas Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® collaborative is implemented in five counties, serving 500 women before, during and after pregnancy. Local partners implement evidence-based clinical interventions and education strategies for patients, providers and the public to prevent preterm births in Kansas. These interventions include smoking cessation, progesterone therapy for high-risk pregnant women, prenatal education, and innovative approaches to optimize appropriate birth spacing for improved outcomes.
“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and services for hundreds 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 Amerigroup 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 $50,000 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Amerigroup Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in Kansas Through its Healthy Generations program, the Amerigroup Foundation is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues, among them, reducing the incidence of low birth weight babies and engaging mothers in prenatal care.
“This partnership is a great example of what the private sector and non-profit organizations are doing to help Kansans and positively impact our state,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. “Amerigroup Foundation has proven it is invested in our state and working towards improving outcomes for all Kansans.”
The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Amerigroup Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal and infant health. Most recently, in 2015-2016, a $1 million grant from Anthem Foundation, Amerigroup Foundation’s parent foundation, helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to 6,600 women, including 3,600 who participated in Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.
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 Amerigroup Foundation
The Amerigroup Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Amerigroup, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anthem, Inc. Together, with local, regional and national organizations, the Amerigroup Foundation works to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Amerigroup and its affiliated health plans serve. Amerigroup Foundation funding is focused on strategic initiatives working to address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative with five areas of focus: Healthy Heart, Cancer Prevention, Healthy Maternal Practices, Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, and Healthy Active Lifestyle. These disease states and medical conditions 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 which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Amerigroup Foundation, please visit www.anthem.foundation.
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, advocacy, 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.