March of Dimes and others continue to help women reduce risk factors of premature births

HopeEvery expectant mother has an ideal vision of the birthing process, one that results in her holding her newborn in her hospital room with family gathered around.

But the reality is that premature births happen — and in Kentucky they happen at a rate 2 percent higher than the national average. When a baby is born prior to the 37th week of pregnancy, it is considered premature. There’s no official cause of premature birth, and the March of Dimes spends millions of dollars on research to determine ways to help mothers carry babies to full term births.

“The cause of premature birth is unknown,” Ryan Burt, Wellness Manager at Passport Health Plan, said in an Insider Louisville article. “There are certain risk factors that can lead to premature birth and we can tell women to be sure to lower their risk, but the actual reason is still unknown.”

To read more about this, please click here. To register for the March of Dimes’ biggest annual fund-raiser, the Greater Louisville March for Babies, on Saturday, May 13 on the Big Four Lawn at Waterfront Park, please click here.


Passport and March of Dimes co-sponsor “NICU to Now” event to highlight Prematurity Awareness Month

MofDPremature birth is the No. 1 cause of death for newborns in the U.S., with the nation’s preterm birth rate worsening for the first time in eight years. Around the U.S., 1 in 10 babies are born preterm, and in Kentucky, the numbers are even worse, with 1 in 8 babies born preterm.

That’s one reason why Passport Health Plan has partnered with the March of Dimes to be the Prematurity Awareness Sponsor for the Greater Louisville March for Babies. As part of our efforts, we are hosting a luminaria lantern lighting event on Thursday, November 17, during which we will honor families that have had a preterm birth and talk about ways to help more moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

The event – which will comprise “NICU to Now” photo sessions during the day, followed by a luminaria lantern lighting in the evening – will take place at the Jefferson Mall Macy’s, 4809 Outer Loop in Louisville, on Thursday, November 17. Photo sessions for families will be taken from noon to 5 p.m. near the Macy’s entrance inside the mall, and the luminaria lantern lighting takes place at 6:30 p.m. outside the Macy’s entrance on the north end of Jefferson Mall (closest to Target).


National preterm birth rate worsens for first time in 8 years, according to March of Dimes

march of dimesThe health of babies in the United States has taken a step backward as the nation’s preterm birth rate worsened for the first time in eight years, according to the latest March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.

In the annual tally that examines how states are faring in their goal of reducing the number of premature or preterm births, the U.S. earned a “C” grade amidst widening differences in prematurity rates across different races and ethnicities. Premature Birth Report Card grades are assigned by comparing the 2015 preterm birth rate in a state or locality to the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent by 2020.

Kentucky was one of six states plus Puerto Rico to receive a “D” grade from the March of Dimes. Only four states received an “A” (New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), while three states received an “F” (Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi).

Premature or preterm birth is birth less than 37 weeks gestation based on the obstetric estimate of gestational age.

To see more information about Kentucky’s scores, please click here. For more information about the overall Premature Birth Report Card, please click here.


Passport partners with March of Dimes to reduce preterm birth rate, improve maternal & newborn health

Passport logoFor the fourth consecutive year, Passport Health Plan is partnering with March of Dimes to address an ongoing problem that impacts one in 10 babies in Kentucky: preterm birth.

Preterm birth is the number one cause of infant mortality and a leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities in children.

This spring and fall, Kentuckians across the state are invited to participate in their local “March for Babies” event to raise money for programs that help Kentucky mothers have healthy, full-term pregnancies and for research to find causes and preventions for preterm births. You can find your local March for Babies and register online at

“Kentucky’s preterm birth rate has been trending downward in recent years, but there is still significant room for improvement,” said Mark B. Carter, Passport Health Plan CEO. “Through our work with March of Dimes, Passport Health Plan hopes to give each baby born in Kentucky the healthy start he or she deserves.”

To read more about this, please click here.


Superheroes of all shapes and sizes prepare to ‘March for Babies’ for the March of Dimes

Insider Louisville LogoIt may not be a local version of “Batman vs. Superman,” but you should  be on the lookout for a bunch of pint-sized Superheroes on the Big Four Lawn at Waterfront Park on May 14.

They will be there as part of the annual March of Dimes “March for Babies,” when hundreds of people gather to join in the cause to prevent birth defects and help in the fight to improve the health of babies, according to a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville.

This year’s superhero theme was chosen in part to support the organization’s idea that there’s “a fighting chance for every baby.” They also hope that children (and adults) will attend the March for Babies in full superhero costume.

For more information about the Greater Louisville March for Babies, please click here.


March of Dimes helps moms ‘Make a PACT’ to prevent preterm births

Insider Louisville LogoThe Greater Kentucky chapter of the March of Dimes is making some great progress in reducing the number of preterm births around the Commonwealth, but there is still much work to do, according to a Passport-sponsored article in Insider Louisville.

Since 2010, the number of preterm births in Kentucky has gone down each year, from 13.7 percent in 2010 to 12.6 percent in 2013, according to the latest information from the March of Dimes. Overall infant mortality rates dropped from 7.2 percent in 2012 to 6.4 percent in 2013, while Jefferson County saw a much greater decrease, as the rate of infant mortality dropped from 8.2 percent in 2012 to 4.9 percent in 2013.

That’s the good news. But it’s not all good news, and that’s why the March of Dimes continues to work hard to prevent preterm births and improve the fate of all babies and moms. And through its mission of preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality, progress continues to be made here in Kentucky, according to Leslie Bailey, executive director of the Greater Kentucky chapter of the March of Dimes.

In January, the chapter participated in March of Dimes National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a campaign that encourages expectant mothers to adopt healthy habits and lifestyle choices. It teamed with the Kentucky Department of Public Health to raise awareness of the issue of birth defects, which affects about 7,000 babies born in Kentucky annually, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The campaign, called ”Make a PACT for Prevention”, focuses on steps women should take to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. PACT stands for “Plan, Avoid, Choose, Talk.”

For more information, please click here.


Passport sponsors Prematurity Awareness Month to help reduce the number of babies born too soon

March of Dimes Super BabyBecause premature birth is the leading cause of death during the first month life, Passport is joining with the March of Dimes to sponsor Prematurity Awareness Month in November. By working together and raising awareness, we can help reduce the number of babies who are born prematurely.

With about 1 in every 7 babies in Kentucky born before 37 weeks gestation (higher than a national average of about 1 in 10), that accounts for about one preterm birth every hour. The U.S. spends more than $26 billion each year for health care, special education, and lost productivity related to premature birth. It causes hearing loss, cerebral palsy, blindness and intellectual disabilities.

“At Passport, we’ve made it a priority to focus on improving birth outcomes and preventing pre-term births,” said Passport CEO Mark Carter. “I’m proud to support the March of Dimes for their ongoing commitment to healthy babies and healthy families.”

Also, Passport will be hosting a special Lantern Lighting event on Tuesday, November 17, in tribute to babies who were born too soon. Please see and share the invitation here for more details.


ABCs Can Help Reduce SIDS cases: Alone, on the Back, in a Crib

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), which includes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), claims the lives of about 85 children under age 1 each year in Kentucky. But many of those deaths are preventable, according to public health officials.

Hoping to reduce those numbers, Kentucky plans to launch an education and awareness campaign Oct. 1 to remind the public of the “ABCs” of safe sleep for an infant.

“Alone, on the back, in a crib,” Dr. Ruth Shepherd, the state’s director of maternal and child health in the Department of Public Health, told the Courier-Journal for a recent article.

Dr. Shepherd is heading up the campaign timed to coincide with national SIDS Awareness Month, which starts on Thursday, October 1. For more information, go online to starting Thursday.

And learn more about what the March of Dimes is doing to help reduce the incidences of SIDS, premature births, and other health risks, go online to