OGDEN -- Some walkers will be out for speed but plenty more will likely be "just strolling away" during the annual March for Babies on Saturday, May 10, at Fort Buenaventura, 2450 "A" Ave.
"People are going to be out there with their strollers, with their bicycles, with their little wagons. It's a family affair," says Julie G. Drake, director of program services for the Utah Chapter of the March of Dimes.
The walk begins at 10 a.m.; registration starts at 9 a.m. Other activities will include balloon artists, face painting and entertainment by B98.7 radio. There is no entry fee for the walk but a $20 donation is suggested. To register in advance or find out more, visit www.marchforbabies.org.
About 300 walkers took part in the Ogden march last year and Drake says she hopes to see increased participation this year. The event is one of three staged by the March of Dimes in Utah during May.
The goal of the walks is to raise money for the organization through donations made by participants but also by others who pledge to support the walkers. Drake said March for Babies netted $400,000 during 2013.
One program that benefits from the walks is the organization's NICU Family Support Program, which provides educational materials and support to families with infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. The walk also supports the Teddy Bear Den, a prenatal health program, which, in Ogden, is located at the Midtown Community Health Center, 2240 Adams Ave.
Since it was founded in 1938, the March of Dimes has worked to eradicate polio, prevent birth defects, promote rubella immunization, bolster the availability of NICUs for all babies and develop surfactant therapy to help premature babies breathe. Its current focus is reducing the rate of premature births, a health crisis estimated to cost the United States more than $26 billion annually.
"The whole goal is to see that one day all babies will be born healthy," Drake says.
Improving the preterm birth rate can be accomplished through better health care during pregnancy and identification of high-risk mothers, the March of Dimes spokeswoman says. Also, reducing the number of elective inductions or Cesarean sections scheduled before 39 weeks gestation -- when a doctor may be going out of town or a mother is "just tired of being pregnant" -- is also important, Drake says.
"We know babies are much healthier and happier if they're born at 39 weeks," she says.
Educating women about the benefits of waiting at least 18 months after giving birth to get pregnant again is another goal, she says, since, "We know in Utah, people like to have babies close together and they like to have lots of them."
If a woman experiences a preterm birth and gets pregnant again 10 to 11 months later, Drake adds, "She's at twice the risk of having another preterm birth."