Albany--Approximately 120,000 babies are born each year with birth defects. And sadly, birth defects, along with low birth weight, are the leading cause of infant mortality.
Organizers with the March of Dimes want to help change those statistics. On November 16th, the organization in Albany will kick off one of its largest fundraisers. The money raised will go toward improving the health of babies around the country.
About three percent of all children born in the United States have a major malformation at birth that can vary from mild to severe.
On average, hospitals spend about $2.6 billion treating birth defects. Half of that cost is for heart and circulatory congenital problems.
Organizers of next week's March of Dimes event hope to raise about $20,000 dollars to continue fighting birth defects.
Doctors say there are several things women can do to reduce their chances of giving birth to a baby with health problems.
"The first thing is stop smoking. We do know that there are certain increase in birth defects in women that smoke. We do know that if you drink to excess, this can effect the pregnancy. And if you're diabetic and not under rigid control, there's a six percent chance of birth defects in diabetics," says Albany gynecologist, Gilbert Klemann.
"We're just trying to get as many people in the community as we can to help out, to help fund our mission. This is one of the March of Dimes biggest fundraisers they do. We're just hoping to have a successful event," says Wendy Montgomery, March of Dimes community director.
About ten percent of problems seen at birth can be traced to a specific agent that can include a drug, nutritional, or biologically factor. About twenty percent of birth defects are inherited or are associated with chromosomal changes. The rest of birth defects are unknown.
In the US, more than 1 in 10 infants are born premature.
Studies have found that the US ranks worse than 21 other countries in the percentage of premature babies born. Women who smoke double their risk of having a low weight baby.
Typically, premature births are associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, deafness, and autism.
Hospital-related costs for premature infants each year total over four billion dollars--that's an average of 21-thousand dollars per baby.
To help the March of Dimes continue helping babies, you can do so by coming out to the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Albany on November 16th. The event will cost you $40 in advance and $45 at the door.
The event will feature both a live and silent auction, as well as wine tasting, and food from several local restaurants. For more information, you can call the March of Dimes at 432-1201.