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NDSU Extension Awarded March of Dimes Grant

The March of Dimes has awarded NDSU Extension a grant to help women prevent premature births and birth defects.

The March of Dimes' North Dakota chapter has awarded the North Dakota State University Extension Service a $5,000 grant to increase North Dakotans' awareness of the importance of a healthy pregnancy.

The project has two main goals. One is to educate women about the availability of services to help prevent premature births and birth defects. The second is to increase the awareness of folic acid and the use of multivitamins among women of childbearing age.

"Prevention education can make a difference in the health of newborns," says Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist. She developed the project.

She says this project is vital because the number of premature births in North Dakota has increased to one out of eight infants, and each year in the U.S., 2,500 to 3,000 babies are born with spina bifida or anencephaly, birth defects also known as neural tube defects.

Research shows that taking folic acid prior to pregnancy and during the first trimester can prevent 50 percent to 70 percent of neural tube defects.

The project is aimed at high-risk pregnant women, particularly Native Americans, and women of reproductive age throughout North Dakota. About 129,000 females ages 15 to 44 live in the state, according to the North Dakota State Data Center.

Garden-Robinson says the project will reach women through prematurity education displays, brochures, public service announcements, PowerPoint lesson plans, a healthy pregnancy Web site (, bookmarks and parent care kits. She'll be working with the North Dakota Healthy Pregnancy Task Force, a 24-member group including Extension agents, nurses, midwives, public health and Women, Infants and Children program nutritionists, a pharmacist, NDSU faculty members and the March of Dimes Public Service Committee.

This grant is one of many the March of Dimes awards as part of its efforts to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies. In 2003, it launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature births. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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