December 5, 2012 – According to new mother, Joanna Bonfanti, “when you have a baby you always picture that moment of being able to hold your child for the first time right after the delivery and we didn't get that experience." Joanna did everything an expectant mother is supposed to do, she is healthy, had great pre-natal care, but despite all her efforts, Lucy was still born three weeks early and weighed in at only 5 pounds and 7 ounces.
She admits “We were not as prepared for her being born and not hearing those cries you know that a newborn baby cries and she was not, she was struggling to breathe so we needed to get her lungs cleared out right away."
According to Dr. David Dixon, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, pre-mature birth is the number one cause of neo-natal mortality. He says "it accounts for about 70 percent of those deaths. It is still a major cause of even infant mortality so about 30 to 50 percent of children that pass away less than one year the cause relates back to prematurity."
In an average week in Florida 51 babies are born with a major birth defect, one out of every eight babies are born pre-term and 33 babies will die before reaching their first birthday.
Dixon says “you can get the message out that there is something that you can do before you get pregnant to maximize the chance of you having a healthy child.”
If you are expecting or plan to get pregnant there are things you can do to lower your chances of having a pre-term baby. First consider folic acid supplements, quit smoking, avoid alcohol and drugs and try to live the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Dixon states “I think if you are looking at what we can do both as a society and as health professionals one of those things is to advocate and to support for an organization such as the March of Dimes.”
For the past 74 years, the March of Dimes organization funds programs of research, community services and educational programs to help prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
Joanna admits the “March of Dimes has helped me just because I enjoy being part of the organization, being able to share our story and help other people who may be in a similar position.”