Each year in the United States, approximately 4 million babies are born and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. On Dec. 28 the March of Dimes announced that the organization will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a year-long celebration in 2013.
The yearlong celebration kicks-off on Jan. 30, honoring its founder President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who was born on that day. Affected by polio himself, FDR established the Foundation in 1938 to “lead, direct and unify” the fight against polio. In FDR’s day, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year.
The March of Dimes got its name when comedian Eddie Cantor asked Americans to send their dimes to FDR at the White House to help defeat polio. The foundation later funded the development of the Salk vaccine, which was field tested in 1954 and licensed a year later, as well as the Sabin vaccine, which became available in 1962. Nearly all babies born today still receive a lifesaving polio vaccine.
Throughout its history, the March of Dimes has supported many important research milestones that have benefited newborn and child health. In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick identified the double helix structure of DNA. Watson received a grant from the March of Dimes that helped support his research on “protein patterns.” Another research breakthrough came in the early 1960s when March of Dimes-supported grantee Dr. Robert Guthrie developed the first screening test for PKU (phenylketonuria), allowing prevention of intellectual disabilities caused by PKU through diet.
Since that time, the March of Dimes and family groups have campaigned tirelessly for expanded newborn screening. Today every baby born in every state in the U.S. receives screening for dozens of conditions that could cause catastrophic health problems or death if not detected and treated promptly at birth.
In a celebration of life and healthy babies, the March of Dimes is releasing its first consumer guide to pregnancy “Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.” Written by Dr. Siobhan Dolan, the book includes tips on pre-natal care, and the latest guidance and advice on genetics, caffeine and alcohol in pregnancy, immunizations you need, and many other topics. Pre-orders for “Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby” can be found HERE. For more information about the March of Dimes, please visit their website.
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