U.S. Senator Kay Hagan's bipartisan March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act of 2011 today passed the Senate. Hagan introduced the bill in December 2011 with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine to raise awareness and funding for efforts by the March of Dimes to combat and prevent diseases that strike our youngest children.
"I am so pleased that our bipartisan March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act has passed the Senate," said Hagan."Although progress has been made over the past several decades on reducing and preventing birth defects and prematurity, we need organizations such as the March of Dimes to continue to push for more research, more innovation, and more prevention efforts. I am proud to stand with the March of Dimes as they continue this effort."
"For nearly 75 years, the March of Dimes has touched millions of lives through its invaluable contributions to maternal and neonatal health care in the United States," Senator Collins said. "This bill would not only commemorate this organization's important work, but would also raise money and awareness to help it continue in its noble mission moving forward."
"As the mother of child born too soon, it means a lot to me that Sen. Hagan's bill will help the March of Dimes celebrate its 75th anniversary and fulfill its mission to improve the health of infants and women of childbearing age, not only in North Carolina but across the country," said Nikki Fleming, mother of the 2011 March of Dimes National Ambassador, Lauren Fleming, and a resident of Marvin, N.C. "I am honored to be a part of this endeavor and I thank Sen. Hagan for being a champion for moms and infants."
"Once again, a coin will help our nation fight a health threat to our children," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. "During the Great Depression, citizens sent their precious dimes -- 4 billion of them -- to the White House to fund research in the successful fight against polio. Today, the sale of special commemorative coins will fund research to identify the causes of premature birth: A dime defeated polio; this commemorative dollar will fight prematurity. We especially thank Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) for their leadership on the March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act. Their work was indispensable in making this commemorative coin a reality."
Coins will be minted in recognition and celebration of the March of Dimes' 75th anniversary. Proceeds from the commemorative coin will be used to support the March of Dimes' Prematurity Campaign, an intensive multi-year campaign to raise awareness among health professionals and the general public and find the causes of prematurity.
The March of Dimes was founded in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, at a time when polio was on the rise. The Foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD. These vaccines effectively ended the polio epidemic in the United States.
Today one in 33 babies born in the United States is affected by a birth defect, and tragically, more than 5,500 infants die every year because of a birth defect. Moreover, an additional 500,000 children are diagnosed with developmental disabilities each year.
Almost 13 percent of babies born in America are born prematurely--an increase of 36 percent since the early 1980s. In 2003, the March of Dimes took on the cause of reducing the number of infants who are born prematurely. And thanks to the work of the March of Dimes and others, after three decades of increase, the pre-term birth rate has now dropped for the third year in a row.