World Prematurity Day is observed annually on November 17 and raises awareness of this serious health crisis. The day was initiated by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFNCI) along with partnering organizations in Europe. One of the most well-known international co-founding organizations is the March of Dimes. Since its inception in 2008, countless individuals and organizations from more than 100 countries join forces with activities, special events and commit to action to help address preterm birth and improve the situation of preterm babies and their families.

An estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely every year, with preterm birth remaining among the top causes of infant death worldwide. A preemie is defined as an infant born earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. At birth, preemies are at greater risk for both short and long-term health complications than full term infants. Short-term complications include breathing problems such as respiratory distress syndrome, heart issues like patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), hypothermia, gastrointestinal problems, and an underdeveloped immune system, which can lead to life-threatening infections. Preemies face potentially lifelong complications such as cerebral palsy, impaired cognitive skills, vision and hearing problems, as well as behavioral and psychological problems.

The care given in the first hour after birth, often known as the “Golden Hour,” is crucial for the long-term health of a Preemie. Having access to the right medical equipment for neonatal care is truly a matter of life and death. Without adequate neonatal equipment and beds, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff often face the challenging problem of sharing essential equipment amongst Preemies, necessitating moving a baby from one piece of equipment to another. Research shows that 27% of infants who are moved from one point of care to another experience complications such as hypothermia.

Brave Beginnings works to ensure ventilators and essential neonatal equipment are always available to newborns in critical need. Each year in the United States, one in nine babies is born prematurely, placing a huge burden on hospitals to have an adequate amount of the vital equipment. The correct medical equipment can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Annually, Brave Beginnings provides grants for essential neonatal intensive care equipment such as critical airway carts, infant resuscitators, incubators, omnibeds and much more. To date, we have granted $9.6 million more than 200 hospitals across the United States, and touched the lives of 271,000 babies. We strive to be the leading grant provider for the purchase of neonatal ventilator equipment and critical pulmonary services for hospitals throughout the US.

We are proud to be a part of the global network of organizations working to help preemies thrive.