Posted by Kate Weldon LeBlanc
Yesterday was World Prematurity Day, which aims to raise awareness that prematurity is a significant problem in Massachusetts, the nation, and the world. More than half a million babies are born preterm in the US each year, with 160 preemies born each week in Massachusetts alone. Because of their early birth, these babies are especially vulnerable and often require inpatient medical care before they can go home to their families. However, no standardized follow-up procedures exist to ensure that preterm babies and their parents continue to receive the care and support they need after they leave the hospital.
On the eve of World Prematurity Day, Jewish Family & Children Service joined with the Massachusetts chapter of March of Dimes, MedImmune, state legislators, and health experts for a briefing at the Massachusetts State House. The event, hosted by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Caucus, put a spotlight on the need for sufficient medical care for babies born prematurely, who are at increased risk for a variety of health complications, and for specialized support for their parents, such as that which JF&CS provides through Fragile Beginnings.
This event also provided an ideal opportunity to publicly launch our Fragile Beginnings Preemie Parent Alliance (FBPPA), with poignant remarks from CERS Director Peggy Kaufman and FBPPA member Dr. Amir Lahav, who runs the Neonatal Lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is the father of twins who were born prematurely. Peggy encouraged anyone who cares about preemies and their families to join the FBPPA via our website.
Kate Weldon LeBlanc has been the administrative director of CERS since August of 2009. Kate is passionate about child and family issues, particularly on building communities of support for parents. Prior to her arrival at JF&CS, she spent nearly ten years working in the departments of Child Advocacy and Government Relations at Children's Hospital Boston. She holds a BSW from Skidmore College and a MPA from UMASS Boston.