March of Dimes to Celebrate 75 Years of Work

March of Dimes, a leading non-profit organization for maternal and infant health, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2013 and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life.

About 4 million babies are born in the United States each year, and the March of Dimes says it has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

It plans a year-long celebration in 2013 beginning on January 30th to honor its founder, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who was born on that day.

[ Also Read: U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rate at Historic Low ]

Affected by polio himself, FDR established the Foundation in 1938 to “lead, direct and unify” the fight against polio. In FDR’s day, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year.

The March of Dimes got its name when comedian Eddie Cantor asked Americans to send their dimes to FDR at the White House to help defeat polio.

The foundation later funded the development of the Salk vaccine, which was field tested in 1954 and licensed a year later, as well as the Sabin vaccine, which became available in 1962. Nearly all babies born today still receive a lifesaving polio vaccine.

[ Also Read: Bill Gates Praises India’s Fight against Polio ]

“For 75 years, March of Dimes has dedicated itself to giving all children an equal chance at a healthy start in life,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of March of Dimes. “Since our founding, research has been a key strategy that has led to many new treatments and saved thousands of lives.”

The March of Dimes current research portfolio consists of about $100 million in grants to investigators throughout the United States and in about a dozen countries worldwide.

As part of its ongoing mission to improve babies’ health, the March of Dimes is releasing its first consumer guide to pregnancy this month.

Written by March of Dimes medical adviser Dr. Siobhan Dolan and published by Harper Collins, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby includes tips on pre-natal care, and the latest guidance and advice on genetics, caffeine and alcohol in pregnancy, immunizations you need, and many other topics. The book can be pre-ordered at: marchofdimes.com/healthymombook.

In the picture above: March of Dimes founder FDR in 1938.

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