WellPoint Foundation Awards $2 Million To March Of Dimes To Help Give More Babies A Healthy Start In Life

  WellPoint Foundation Awards $2 Million To March Of Dimes To Help Give More
                        Babies A Healthy Start In Life

PR Newswire

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 15, 2013

Grant Builds on Longstanding Relationship and Proven Results

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One in nine
American babies is born prematurely, placing the newborn at increased risk of
medical complications and lifelong health challenges. To improve birth
outcomes and reduce unnecessary health care costs, the WellPoint Foundation
today announced a two-year, $2 million grant to the March of Dimes to support
prenatal care and quality improvement programs.

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Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more
than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the
leading cause of newborn death. Babies born just a few weeks early have
higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns.

The WellPoint Foundation grant will support March of Dimes community grants to
expand CenteringPregnancy®, a group prenatal care model, in 13 states, and
quality improvement programs in California to help health care providers
increase the number of full-term deliveries.

"This grant will allow the March of Dimes to help more women have healthy
pregnancies and full-term deliveries," said Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, senior
vice president and deputy medical director of the March of Dimes. "We thank
the WellPoint Foundation for its continued support of the March of Dimes'
mission and the good health of moms-to-be and their babies."

The $2 million grant to the March of Dimes is part of the WellPoint
Foundation's ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving
public health across the country. Through its State Health Index -- a
state-by-state compilation of public health measures -- and Healthy
Generations program, the WellPoint Foundation works to identify the issues
most in need of attention and directs its charitable support and volunteer
efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing low birthweight and
engaging mothers in prenatal care are major focus areas for the WellPoint

"Nearly half a million babies are born too soon in this country each year. In
some cases, these preterm births can be avoided through effective prenatal
care, education and outreach that together produce better outcomes for mom and
baby, as well as our health care system," said Lance Chrisman, executive
director of the WellPoint Foundation. "We're proud to support the March of
Dimes with this grant because they are at the forefront of making sure
moms-to-be and families have access to the care and information they need to
have full-term, healthy babies."

The WellPoint Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make the
CenteringPregnancy® model of care available to thousands of women by
supporting programs in 13 states: Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana,
Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and

CenteringPregnancy®, developed by Centering Healthcare Institute, has been
demonstrated to reduce the incidence of preterm birth and low birthweight.
This prenatal care model integrates the three major components of care: health
assessment, education, and support, into a unified program within a group
setting. Eight to 12 women with similar gestation ages meet together,
learning care skills and participating in facilitated discussion, and
developing a support network with other group members. Each
CenteringPregnancy® group meets for a total of 10 sessions throughout
pregnancy and early postpartum. The practitioner, within the group space,
completes standard physical assessments at each session.

In California, the grant funds will be used over two years to implement
quality improvement initiatives at 12 hospitals focused on eliminating
medically unnecessary, elective deliveries before 39 weeks. The quality
improvement program provides information and education to help hospitals,
clinicians and patients better understand the consequences of early elective
delivery and the importance of the last weeks of pregnancy in the full-term,
39 week developmental process.

The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between WellPoint
Foundation and March of Dimes. Most recently, in 2011 a $1 million WellPoint
Foundation grant helped the March of Dimes provide prenatal care to more than
3,400 women via CenteringPregnancy® and to roll out a quality improvement
toolkit to 12 hospitals in California that together deliver more than 43,000
babies annually. The aggregate preterm birth rate at the WellPoint
Foundation-funded CenteringPregnancy® sites was 35.4 percent lower than the
aggregate preterm birth rate for the 13 states supported by the grant (8.2
percent versus 12.7 percent).*

About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and
baby health. With chapters nationwide andits premier event, March for
Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by
preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest
resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us
on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75^thAnniversary and its ongoing
work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the
Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other
breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with
birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United
States, and all have benefitted from the March of Dimes life saving research
and education.

About The WellPoint Foundation
The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and
through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the
inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of
individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its
affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic
initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care
challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a
multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical
conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care
in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long
term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes
prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations
and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual
associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates'
campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit

*Compared to the latest national data available at the time of the report

SOURCE March of Dimes

Website: http://www.marchofdimes.com/
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