By Heather Barrow
No pregnant woman thinks she will deliver a premature baby. I had a textbook pregnancy and delivery with my first child. With my second, I went to all of my OBGYN appointments, took prenatal vitamins, didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs. My water broke at 24 weeks and I delivered my son two months prematurely after two months on hospital bed rest. It happened to me and my family and we, especially my son Hill, will always deal with the consequences of his premature birth. Last year at the inaugural HRH Tot Trot Hill’s story was displayed alongside other VIPs (Very Important Preemies) on HRH’s Wall of Hope.The Wall of Hope was an idea brought to life by HRH board member Elizabeth Carrere, to inspire current and future HRH families to dare to hope they will also leave the hospital with a healthy baby. It has done that and more and as I see the submissions and patient stories that pour in, I realize the Wall of Hope serves another important purpose. It is a clear visual reminder that the chances are high someone you know will be on HRH’s Wall of Hope, here’s why you should care:
–1 in 10 babies is born prematurely. Every year in this country 500,000 babies are born too soon, and premature birth is the leading cause of death for newborns and the second leading cause of death for children under five.
–Premature birth impacts a baby for life. It causes lasting complications in babies that survive their preterm birth, such as intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing loss, learning and behavioral problems, cerebral palsy and lung problems. Additionally, preemies are at a higher risk of developing chronic adult health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
–Our country spends 26.2 Billion per year on this epidemic. A report issued by the Institute of Medicine in 2006 found that the annual societal economic costs (medical, educational, and lost productivity) associated with preterm birth were at least $26.2 billion. Taxpayers bear the brunt of this economic burden as almost 50 percent of hospital stays for premature infants were financed by Medicaid, with hospital costs for these babies averaging $45,900.
I sincerely hope this epidemic has not personally touched you, your children or your future grandchildren. It is a relief to know HRH is here supporting those who aren’t as fortunate. If our community continues to support the fight for preemies, we can increase the chances this crisis will not become your own.
We can’t do it without you, so I’m asking you to get involved. Your family can join the #fightforpreemies today by registering for the HRH Tot Trot on 11/15 in Tampa. With each registration will prolong the pregnancy of one more woman on long-term hospital bed rest or give one more family the support they need during their baby’s hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit. It takes a village to raise a preemie, let’s show HRH families Tampa is a great one.