The March of Dimes has chosen the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System as the Illinois site to implement its new program “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait”, designed to reduce preterm delivery. To support this program, UI Health will receive $40,000 a year for three years from the March of Dimes.

Premature delivery, defined as before 37 weeks of gestation – adds significant risk of a host of immediate and lifelong health problems, including developmental delays and, heart and lung problems.

Almost 10 percent of infants born in the U.S. are premature. But among UI Health’s largely disadvantaged patient population, the rate is about 15 percent. “The patients we see at UI Health have higher rates of medical and obstetrical complications and so are at higher risk for premature delivery,” says Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, director of maternal-fetal medicine at UI Health and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

As part of this program, all women who call for prenatal care appointments at UI Health and its Mile Square Health Centers – about 2,500 patients annually – will be interviewed to determine their risk for preterm delivery. High risk women will be matched with an advanced practice OB-GYN nurse and a community health worker to care. Women will also be offered classes to learn about healthy pregnancy.

“Providing proper prenatal care can help prevent about half of all premature births,” said Beena Peters, associate director of nursing for women and children’s health services at UI Health and co-principal investigator on the grant.

Story by: Sharon Parmet