Nearly a dozen Newborn Intensive Care Units that care for sick and premature babies across the United States will hold reunions of their graduates at this year’s March of Dimes Foundation’s signature fundraising event, March for Babies.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Women and Infants Center works with the March of Dimes to provide care and support for families during their baby’s time in the NICU, according to Japonica Boler, a March of Dimes volunteer whose son was born prematurely at UAB. This year marks the third annual UAB NICU Reunion at the March for Babies event in Birmingham, which takes place Saturday, April 29, in Uptown by the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center (2221 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North).
“My son Cayden was born prematurely at 26 weeks, and spent months in the NICU at UAB, unable to eat or breathe on his own,” Boler said. “Today, Cayden is 3 years old and doing much better. We love to come to the NICU reunion and participate in March for Babies each year. We get to give back to an amazing organization and see all of the wonderful staff who took great care of our son. We can’t wait to walk!”
Premature birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of death of babies in the United States. About 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely each year, with premature birth and its consequences being the leading cause of death in children under age 5. Babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including chronic lung disease, vision and hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, and neurodevelopmental disabilities.
|About 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely each year, with premature birth and its consequences being the leading cause of death in children under age 5.|
The March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program offers information and comfort to families during the NICU hospitalization of their newborn, during the transition home, and in the event of a newborn death. It also provides professional education for NICU staff, and promotes neonatal family-centered care in NICUs. NICU Family Support is in more than 100 hospitals across the country and touches more than 70,000 families each year.
“It just makes sense to hold our NICU reunions at March for Babies because our families have received helped by both the March of Dimes and UAB Hospital,” said Elicia Jacob, DNP, director of Nursing Services at UAB’s Women and Infants Center. “Families come from all across the region because of the support they received from the March of Dimes and the caregivers at our hospital. We’re like one big family.”
Nearly 500 March for Babies events will take place all across the United States, with most occurring this spring. Thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies across the country get involved. National sponsors include Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna and HCA, as well as regional sponsor Publix. For more information and to register, visit marchforbabies.org.