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Media Contact: Scott Golden
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$148,600 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Grant to March of Dimes Will Help More Virginia Babies Get a
Healthy Start in Life

Group-based prenatal care program reduces preterm births

RICHMOND, Va – Aug. 22, 2013 – 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 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation today announced a two-year, $148,600 grant to the March of Dimes to support its CenteringPregnancy prenatal care program.

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 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make the CenteringPregnancy® model of care available to additional women in Virginia by supporting programs at Virginia Commonwealth University, Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare, Augusta Healthcare for Women and Richmond City Department of Public Health.

“This grant will allow the March of Dimes to help more women have healthy pregnancies and full-term deliveries,” said Scott D. Berns, M.D., MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical officer of the March of Dimes. “We thank the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for its continued support of the March of Dimes mission and the good health of moms-to-be and their babies."

CenteringPregnancy, developed by Centering Healthcare Institute, has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of preterm birth and low birth weight.  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 gestational ages meet together, learning care skills, participating in a 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 health assessments at each session.

“We realize the importance of getting a newborn off to the best and healthiest start possible,“ said Jay Schukman, M.D., Anthem’s chief medical director. “By continuing to support groups like the March of Dimes through grants like this one, we can help ensure that we have the most impact and can truly make a difference in helping curb the number of premature births across the state.”

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is committed to addressing health disparities and improving public health. Through its State Health Index – a compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield 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.

About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.  With chapters nationwide and 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 or  Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary 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 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. 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 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 its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


*Compared to the latest national data available at the time of the report (2007).