Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Premature Birth: A Personal Look at What It Meansto Have a Baby Too Soon

March of Dimes
Thursday, 12 June 2003

An Actor, Editor and Magazine CEO share their stories at March of Dimes event

Power and prestige do not provide insurance against having a baby too soon. That is the hard truth that many prominent parents must come to grips with, as they ride the emotional roller coaster of premature birth.

Today, at a luncheon sponsored by the March of Dimes, three public figures share their own first-hand experiences with preterm birth. Carol Evans, CEO and president of Working Mother Media; Rebecca Johnson, Vogue contributing editor and author, "Holding On to Luke," Sunday New York Times Magazine, (August 25, 2002) and B.D. Wong, actor in NBC's Law & Order, SVU and author of the new book, Following Foo (the electronic adventures of the Chestnut Man), offer their own journeys of triumph and tragedy after the premature births of their babies. Joining the panel for his expert advice is Ian Holzman, M.D., chief of newborn medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. Soledad O'Brien, co-anchor, NBC's Weekend Today, is moderator.

"Most Americans today are unaware of this serious health problem," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, March of Dimes president. "I'm delighted to have such an esteemed group of parents join us today to share their very personal and courageous stories. I welcome their support as we embark on our five-year, $75 million campaign to raise awareness and reduce the rate of premature birth by 15 percent by 2007."

B.D. Wong's twin sons were born 11 weeks prematurely. One survived, the other did not. In his recently released book, Wong chronicles his surviving son's struggle in the neonatal intensive care unit through e-mail correspondence to friends and family. "Sharing the ups and downs of this experience really helped," Wong said. "It's like we were on this roller coaster, and everyone we knew was along for the ride." Wong currently is working with the March of Dimes to raise awareness of the growing problem of premature birth.

Each year more than 476,000 babies are born too soon (before 37 completed weeks). Rebecca Johnson lost her son Luke after he was born prematurely at 26 weeks. Describing her preterm birth experience, she says, "Because the only known cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery, he (Luke) and I were locked into a race against time. Every day he stayed in my body increased his chances for survival but decreased mine."

Working Mother Media CEO Carol Evans says that she was one of the lucky parents. "My son, Robert, is a healthy, normal 16--year-old. He was born six weeks early. I still don't know what caused it, but I do know that had I been able to keep him in the womb just two more weeks he would not have suffered at the beginning the way he did."

The March of Dimes National Communications Advisory Council consists of senior-level journalists and was created in 1980 to assist the March of Dimes in identifying topics important to the news media reaching women of childbearing age.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at www.marchofdimes.com, its Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org, or call 1-888-MODIMES.

For more information, or to contact March of Dimes, see their website at: www.marchofdimes.com

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