In response to the significant rise in premature births, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority chapters across the country will hold prematurity awareness events during November. Zeta members in more than 850 communities across America will conduct the awareness activities in houses of worship, who will learn more about the infant health crisis that nearly half a million families cope with each year.
Prematurity affects one out of eight 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 1- in-6 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 number one killer of 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.
That’s why the March of Dimes is leading a national effort to save babies from premature birth by funding research to find the causes and by supporting local programs that offer hope and help to families with a baby in intensive care.
As part of that effort, November is designated as Prematurity Awareness Month to remind the public that premature birth is a crisis and to bring people together to help give all babies their nine months.
Despite its prevalence, many families endure the trauma of a premature birth — and all too often infant death — privately and silently.
“We want to help the March of Dimes educate the public,” said Etta Mitchell, Nu Chi Zeta chapter president. “So, we are bringing this vital information to the places where we worship, one of the cores of community life. This issue affects so many families in the Virgin Islands; it just seems like the right thing to do.”
The March of Dimes is leading a World Prematurity Day Observance on Friday, Nov. 17, and on St. Croix, the ladies of Zeta are asking all congregations to help with this educational program of raising awareness of prematurity. The sorority will make a special appearance and presentation to the congregation of the City of Refuge, and all are invited to attend.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was founded in 1920 on the belief that the social nature of sorority life should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day.
For more information on Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., visit the website at www.zphib1920.org.