Prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal death, and preemies who survive are at risk for lifelong health problems, ranging from retardation and chronic lung disease to hearing and vision loss. While there are known risk factors, including obesity, anemia, high blood pressure, smoking and drug use, "in fact," says Dr. Nancy Green, medical director of the March of Dimes, "the cause of half of all premature births in the U.S. is a mystery."
The March of Dimes last week launched a campaign to raise money and awareness. Its goal: to reduce early births 15% in five years. To learn more, visit marchofdimes.com.