Inside Kentucky Health

OneieThe number of preterm births in Kentucky has gone down each of the last four years in which the March of Dimes has kept statistics, from 13.7 percent in 2010 to 12.6 percent in 2013, according to the latest information from the March of Dimes.

Overall infant mortality rates dropped from 7.2 percent in 2012 to 6.4 percent in 2013, while Jefferson County saw a much greater decrease, as the rate of infant mortality dropped from 8.2 percent in 2012 to 4.9 percent in 2013.

That’s the good news. But it’s not all good news, and that’s why the March of Dimes continues to work hard to prevent preterm births and improve the fate of all babies and moms. And through its mission of preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality, progress continues to be made here in Kentucky, according to Leslie Bailey, executive director of the Greater Kentucky chapter of the March of Dimes.

“We raise money locally for research into the cause,” she said. “Unhealthy habits are a factor, but there are still 2-pound babies born at 24 weeks to healthy mothers. We don’t know why that happens.”

In January, the local chapter participated in March of Dimes National Birth Defects Prevention Month, a campaign that encourages expectant mothers to adopt healthy habits and lifestyle choices. It teamed with the Kentucky Department of Public Health to raise awareness of the issue of birth defects, which affects about 7,000 babies born in Kentucky annually, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Make a pakThe campaign, called ”Make a PACT for Prevention”, focuses on steps women should take to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. PACT stands for “Plan, Avoid, Choose, Talk”:

  • The first step is to “Plan” ahead to get as healthy as possible before getting pregnant. One key way to do this is to and take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
  • Next is to “Avoid” harmful substances, including alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  • Next up is to “Choose” a healthy lifestyle , including a diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and more. Also, get some exercise and stay physically active.
  • Finally, it’s important to “Talk” to your doctor, go to all of your prenatal visits, and know your family medical history.

Later this year, the March of Dimes holds its biggest fundraiser of the year — the Greater Louisville March for Babies. This year’s event will be on Saturday, May 14 at Waterfront Park. To get teams and participants ready, there’s a Community Kickoff event scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Xscape Theater in the East End. That event includes a FREE screening of the movie “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

For more information on the 2016 Greater Louisville March for Babies, contact Debra Eichenberger of the March of Dimes Greater Kentucky Chapter at (502) 473-6684 or [email protected]. To register for the walk or to start a team with co-workers, family, or friends, visit And you can find the March of Dimes Greater Kentucky Chapter on Facebook at and on Twitter at @marchofdimesky.