Responding to March of Dimes Initiative
by Richard K. Olsen, Executive Director, The National Stillbirth Society

How can the March of Dimes propose to survey the problem of prematurely - investing $75,000,000 as they profess to be doing - and not acknowledge the companion problem of stillbirth.

Does not their motto, "Saving babies, together" embrace stillbirth. My daughter Camille was 41 weeks, 8 pounds and 21 inches. ( She died as my wife slept, on the eve of her planned delivery. Why is Camille not a baby, but a 24-week premature one pounder a baby worth saving. How does MOD know the same processes are not at work in the death of both of them. And yet for some reason which we fail to understand, MOD ignores stillbirth. We have never heard MOD President Dr. Jennifer Howse ever utter the word "stillbirth". In fact, we tried a little test, just to be certain we didn't miss it.

We went to GOOGLE and under "Advanced Search" typed in "Dr. Jennifer Howse". There were 132 references. Next, we added the word "prematurity" and discovered 54 references containing both prematurity and "Dr. Jennifer Howse". Next, in place of "prematurity" we typed the word "stillbirth". It came as no surprise to us that the number of references that came up was ZERO.

Dr. Jennifer Howse, a medical doctor committed to fighting birth defects and "Saving babies, together" has never spoken or written the word stillbirth during her tenure as President of The March of Dimes.

1. Is there any "birth defect" more serious than the absence of a beating heart?
2. Why is $75,000,000 not being invested by MOD in research to discover how to save the two-thirds of the 26,000 babies that are born every year, perfectly formed, viable, but still?

The baby pictured here is Will. He may look like he's just sleeping but it's a sleep from which he will never awaken. The fact that his death just days before his anticipated "due date" is unexplained should prompt us all to cry out for answers. Instead, stillbirth mothers are left without answers, without hope, without their dream.

There is no joyous homecoming for stillbirth parents. We close the door on the world, and forget our place in it. We are childless parents, and no one cares. Not MOD and certainly not the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). From 1997 to 2001 they invested almost $4,000 per year per SIDS fatality in research. During the same period stillbirth fatalities received a paltry $3.32. Not even enough to send every stillbirth mother a decent condolence card.

From this point forward, let us resolve that everytime we heard about MOD's prematurity initiative, we ask ourselves and them, "Why is the companion syndrome of stillbirth not being studied as well"?

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