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'It really helped empower me': March of Dimes St. Louis works to better health outcomes for moms and babies

The organization uses research, advocacy, and education to give every baby the best possible start.

It's been almost four years since Kassie Specht's newborn went straight to the NICU.

"My son Easton is 3-and-a-half years old, and he was born at 32 weeks premature. We spent about 50 days at Cardinal Glennon, right around like October of 2019," Specht said. "I needed March of Dimes."

Her son Easton fought for his life along with the help of healthcare workers and the March of Dimes.

The organization uses research, advocacy, and education to give every baby the best possible start.

It also works to improve maternal mortality rates.

The 2022 March of Dimes Report Card presents the state of maternal and infant health in the United States and through findings, Missouri received a D grade.

Credit: March of Dimes

The statistics show:

  • The pre-term birth rate in Missouri is 11.3%
  • In Missouri, the pre-term birth rate among Black women is 51% higher than the rate among all other women
  • It gave an F grade for St. Louis City and County for the preterm birth rate
  • 14.5% of women in Missouri received inadequate prenatal care

Specht said the organization helped her during the tough moments.

"It really helped empower me as a mom," she added.

The goal is to empower all families.

Melissa Fricke shared her experience of two miscarriages and the struggles her children faced.

"My daughter was born at 34 weeks due to my severe preeclampsia. Our son David was also premature at 35 weeks," she added.

The Fricke's two children are now happy and healthy and the family wants to pay it forward.

Since 2016, the family has been going to the race called March for Babies and now, they're this year's ambassador family.

"We're happy to share our story and help families heal and inspire them. It’s a way to bring families together who have a common thread. Sometimes, it's not talked about a lot," she pointed out. 

March of Dimes is also touching even more lives in the St. Louis region through its latest partnership with Cardinal Glennon.

The new program is March of Dimes NICU Family Support

Sam Stern is the NICU Family Support Program Coordinator at Cardinal Glennon.

Stern explained the program works on respite care activities, educating and empowering parents on baby care, and educating staff on family-centered care to build trust with families.

Stern said, "Cardinal Glennon is the only children's hospital in the St. Louis area with a program like this with March of Dimes. It is evidence-based and it has shown that when you implement this kind of program, you do get better outcomes for families once they leave."

On Thursday, the organization is heading to Jefferson City to demand better healthcare for the state's moms and babies.

The organization is also gearing up for their big event called March for Babies on June 3 at Laumeier Park.

Credit: Daria Root

For a link to the event and to sign up, click here.

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