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March of Dimes offers new resources for pregnancy and baby health

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By The Staff

Faced with countless resources on pregnancy and baby health, expectant moms - initially overjoyed - can be left feeling overwhelmed.

Now the March of Dimes makes it easier than ever for moms to get the information they need.

"Moms today want reliable information about pregnancy and baby health in the most convenient way possible," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of March of Dimes. "Instead of sifting through books, magazines and Web sites, we hope moms will come to the March of Dimes first for their pregnancy and baby health needs.

"We're offering new medical information, delivering it with new media, and expanding our marketing efforts to champion the needs of all babies, and to be a knowledgeable and reliable resource to all moms," Howse said.

The March of Dimes recently unveiled MarchofDimesBaby.org, a new doorway to its Web site that allows visitors to quickly see the most frequently asked questions and answers about pregnancy and baby health.

New medical information

The March of Dimes helps pregnant women and new mothers make sense of the latest medical and scientific research, whether it's how much weight to gain during pregnancy or what type of seafood is safe for them to eat. Some examples of information now available to moms from the March of Dimes include:

- Answers to questions by e-mail - Trained health information specialists in the March of Dimes Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center answer questions in both English and Spanish via e-mail on pregnancy health and nutrition, newborn screening, complications and risks, and other topics.

- Nine questions to help you get your nine months - What questions should every woman who is thinking about having a baby ask her health care provider before she gets pregnant? The March of Dimes provides moms with a preconception checklist and other valuable resources.

- Newborn screening - The March of Dimes Web site is one of the only places that moms can find up-to-date information about which newborn screening tests are routinely provided by their state. This is potentially life-saving information for a baby.

New media

Finding new ways to reach today's modern moms, the March of Dimes also is using various new media techniques:

- Text messaging - The March of Dimes connects with expectant moms at their convenience by sending out daily test messages in English and Spanish with a healthy pregnancy tip.

- Podcasts - Pregnancy and baby health information is available "on demand" thanks to the March of Dimes Podcast series hosted by award-winning journalist and March of Dimes volunteer Jane Clayson.

- Online scrapbooking - "Every Baby Has a Story" is an integrated media project celebrating babies. Visitors can create a virtual scrapbook containing photos and videos about their baby that can be shared via e-mail or on social networking sites.

New marketing

The March of Dimes is also launching a new marketing campaign focused on the health of all babies. Following is a snapshot of some of the new initiatives:

- New look - A new March of Dimes logo and purple color scheme reflects a modern image.

- March for Babies - The March of Dimes has renamed its signature fundraising event, WalkAmerica, to March for Babies. The new name makes a clear connection to what the March of Dimes is all about - the health of babies.

- PSA campaign - Beginning this month, new print, TV, radio and outdoor public service announcements will communicate the March of Dimes goal to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.

- Folic acid - Working with the Grain Foods Foundation, the March of Dimes has created a new "Folic Acid Seal for a Healthy Pregnancy" that is being featured on food packages in retail stores to help women quickly and easily identify breads and other grain products that contain at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of folic acid, a B vitamin that can help prevent certain birth defects.

Howse emphasized that the mission of the March of Dimes to prevent premature birth and other serious threats to infant health has not changed.

"Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and we are committed to reducing its toll," Howse said. "By engaging more people in our mission, and educating more pregnant women and moms about healthy babies, we hope to reach that goal much sooner."

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.