March of Dimes event aids babies 2009: Mostly Cloudy

March of Dimes event aids babies

Mostly Cloudy The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thousands of metro Atlantans are scheduled to walk Saturday so that thousands of Georgia babies have a chance for

a healthy crawl. The March of Dimes is hoping to raise $2.7 million from walks in Atlanta, Roswell, Marietta and Duluth to battle birth defects, premature births and infant mortality, said Tracie Grant, a spokeswoman for the charity. One in six Georgia babies die because of birth defects, and more than 7 percent of the approximately 2,735 babies born weekly in Georgia are premature, which is a leading cause of death among infants within the first month of life, charity officials said. The March of Dimes hopes to raise $5 million statewide. It raised $117 million nationwide last year. Hospitals screen for 28 birth defects when babies are born in Georgia, including: PKU, or phenylketonuria, which leads to mental retardation homocystinuria, which affects brain development sickle cell anemia, a blood disease found primarily in African-Americans congenital hypothyroidism, a thyroid deficiency and cystic fibrosis, which causes lung and digestive problems. The March for Babies is made up of fund-raising teams and has 10,000 people registered in metro Atlanta, Grant said. The 3.9-mile walk in downtown Atlanta is to start at Centennial Olympic Park with registration at 9 a.m. and has a goal of raising $1.6 million.

The charity, originally the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, was created in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight polio a radio campaign urged listeners to send dimes to the White House. The charity changed its name in 1979. Polio has largely been eradicated worldwide.

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