March of Dimes

111 W. Jackson Blvd, Ste 2200
Chicago, IL 60604
312-435-0988 Fax

The Mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality.

Facts and Statistics
The parents of one out of every 28 babies receive the frightening news that their baby has a birth defect.

On average the cost of caring for a premature baby is 10 times higher than the cost for babies born full term.

In 2000, the national hospital bill for pre-mature babies was estimated at $11.9 billion.

Health Info
A birth defect is an abnormality of structure, function or metabolism (body chemistry) present at birth that results in physical or mental disability, or is fatal.

Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life.

While the causes of most birth defects are not known, there are a number of steps a woman can take to reduce her risk of having a baby with a birth defect.

Have a pre-pregnancy visit with her health care provider.

Abstain from alcohol, smoking and street drugs

Take a multi-vitamin every day

Discuss any medication (prescription, over-the-counter and herbal) with her doctor before taking

Fundraising & Administrative Percentage

In May 2001, six weeks early, we welcomed our twin boys, Lif Conner (4 lbs., 6 oz.) and Plez McGhee (5 lbs., 1 oz.). Our sons remained in the NICU for 15 days after they were born.

The months that followed were filled with many scary days and nights. Our twins - in a high-risk category: preemies, low birthweights, multiple birth, males and a family history of asthma - contracted respiratory syncytial virus (known as RSV) five times in two short years. As a result, they have multiple doctors including a pediatrician, an immunologist, an allergist, a sinus disease specialist and a pediatric pulmonologist.

Our boys were only four months old when the pediatrician diagnosed them with RSV for the first time. They were sent home with a nebulizer. We did not understand the dangers of RSV before that time, but now we understand all too well that RSV is a common and highly contagious virus that causes symptoms like the common cold for most kids (almost 100% of children will have RSV before they turn two). But for premature infants, or babies born with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease, RSV can cause severe, even life-threatening illness.

Just before their first Christmas, the boys were hospitalized for nearly a week with their second bout of RSV. During follow-up visits with our pediatrician, we started the process to get insurance approval for preventive injections. The approval process took five weeks, and the boys did not receive their first shots until February - more than halfway through the RSV season. (RSV season, like flu season, lasts from fall to spring.)

Later that February, we rushed the twins to the ER, where we insisted they be tested yet again for RSV. The staff told us to take our babies home since the lab would not have results for several hours. Finally, the hospital called and told us to return immediately. The boys had RSV again. The doctors increased their medications and added a strong antibiotic.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of our experience with RSV. Our boys contracted RSV for the fourth time when they were 19 months old and for the fifth time just a few months later. Their respiratory systems just could not rebound fast enough.

Both boys have scarring in their lungs and still receive nebulizer treatments at the age of 3?. But as parents, we believe the shots during RSV season helped to keep our twins out of the hospital more than once.

We encourage parents to be aware, request testing if you suspect RSV and to act quickly if there is a diagnosis. Be prepared to get second opinions and to stand your ground with your insurance company - it is your child's health and maybe even his life at stake.

Lori & Patrick



307 N Michigan Ave, Ste 800  |  Chicago, Illinois 60601  |  312.360.0382  |  Toll-Free: 800.299.6842  |  Fax: 312.360.0388  |  Email