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Press Release

$80,200 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation Grant

To March of Dimes Will Help More Georgia Babies

Get a Healthy Start in Life


Group-based prenatal care program reduces preterm births


ATLANTA -- (Oct. 16, 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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation today announced a two-year, $80,200 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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make the CenteringPregnancy® model of care available to additional women in Georgia by supporting programs at New Millennium Obstetrics & Gynecology in Riverdale and Southwest Public Health District in Albany.


“This grant will allow the March of Dimes to help more women have healthy pregnancies and full-term deliveries,” said Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director of the March of Dimes. “We thank the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia 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.


The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation and the March of Dimes Georgia chapter. Most recently, in 2011, a $1 million grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia’s corporate foundation helped the March of Dimes provide prenatal care to more than 3,400 women via CenteringPregnancy and to rollout a quality improvement program focused on eliminating deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy that are medically unnecessary at 12 hospitals in California which collectively deliver more than 43,000 babies annually. The aggregate preterm birth rate at the Foundation-funded CenteringPregnancy sites was 35.4 percent lower than the aggregate preterm birth rate for the 13 states supported by the grant (8.2 percent versus the 12.7 percent).*


“Prenatal care is extremely vital to the health care system of our state,” said Morgan Kendrick, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. “When you look at the number of premature babies born in our state, it is clear that one way to help is by providing education and assessment services that enable more women to carry their babies to full-term.”


“The continued support of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation will enable the Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes to further our statewide goal of increasing the number Centering locations and patient participants in Georgia” said Sheila Ryan, state director of the March of Dimes.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia 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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia 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 the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company 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. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. To learn more about the Foundation please visit


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


Bert Kelly
(404) 842-8516

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia