The problem of premature birth has been with us since at least Biblical times. But during the last 30 years, the rate has increased dramatically, and no one knows why. Specifically, babies born to black women in the US are more than 11⁄2 times as likely to be born too early compared to babies born to white women. In 2011 in the US, the preterm birth rate for black infants was 16.8 percent, compared to the national average of 11.7 percent.
The overall grade for the United States is a disappointing C and the grade in Texas is a sub-par D, which means we have a shockingly high preterm birth rate in this country and it is worst in Texas. More than 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year. Despite our cutting-edge technology and a wealth of medical resources, the U.S. preterm birth rate is higher than most developed countries.
In response to the significant rise in premature births, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority chapters across the country are planning to hold prematurity awareness events on during the month of November 2018. Zeta members in more than 850 communities across America will conduct prematurity awareness activities in houses of worship and congregations. Worshipers will learn more about the infant health crisis that nearly half a million families cope with each year. This year marks the 16th consecutive year of Zeta’s participation by leading this nationwide grassroots campaign.
The March of Dimes is leading a World Prematurity Day observance on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Prematurity affects one out of ten babies born in the U.S. today—a rate that has increased 29 percent since 1981. The numbers are even more alarming for African-American babies who have a one-in-six chance of being born too soon.
In addition to the emotional toll, there is a tangible cost to premature birth as well. Average hospital charges in the United States for the most severe cases of prematurity were nearly 60 times higher than the charges
for newborn stays without complications. Prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns (in the first month of life) and many of the babies who survive leave the hospital with lifelong health conditions or
developmental disabilities that will place an additional financial burden on the family.
The March of Dimes (MOD) officially launched their Prematurity Campaign on January 30, 2003. During a planning meeting at MOD’s national headquarters in White Plains, New York with Zeta’s newly elected International President Barbara C. Moore and her appointed National MOD Leadership Team, the Prematurity Campaign was formally introduced by MOD Foundation President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse.
After some discussion of the Campaign’s mission and goals and how the Sorority could get involved with helping to raise public awareness of the problems of prematurity, the late former President Barbara Moore suggested the initial concept of Zeta chapters and auxiliaries conducting a grassroots awareness campaign in member’s houses of worship—a demographic that is not typically approached or included.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the March of Dimes has been in partnership for over 45 years. “Since 1972, have placed great value on our partnership with March of Dimes beginning with their support of our Stork’s Nest incentive-based program that offers prenatal health education to low-income pregnant women.
In Dallas Texas, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Kappa Zeta Chapter is a Stork’s Nest host chapter that provides. Storks Nest aims to increase the number of women receiving early and regular prenatal care in an effort to prevent cases of low birth-weight, premature births, and infant deaths. The program is designed to promote prenatal care participation and encourage healthy behaviors during pregnancy through two components-incentives and education. The program encourages participating in prenatal education classes, stopping at-risk behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and consuming alcoholic beverages, reducing stress, etc.