March of Dimes Advocacy & Government Affairs 2016 Year in Review
Because of all of our wonderful volunteers, partners and staff, 2016 was full of incredible successes for the March of Dimes advocacy efforts! With your help, we made major strides on behalf of the health and wellbeing of moms, babies and families, at all levels of government.
Here are just a few of the wonderful things we accomplished together:
At the federal level
- We improved chemical safety: March of Dimes worked for over two years to support reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), a severely outdated and ineffective law that regulates all chemicals in commerce in the U.S. The updated legislation, which requires special consideration of the impact of chemicals on pregnant women and infants, was signed into law by the President in June.
- We prevented birth defects: Folic acid is key to preventing serious birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs). After years of work by the March of Dimes, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will now allow folic acid to be added to corn masa flour, a dietary staple in much of the Hispanic community. Our nation saw a major decrease in these defects after folic acid was added to white flour 20 years ago.
- We secured funding for Zika research and prevention: March of Dimes led a coalition of almost 100 organizations to secure $1.1 billion in emergency funding for Zika, which was passed this fall. Zika virus can cause severe birth defects such as microcephaly, along with other issues such as vision and hearing loss, developmental delays and learning disabilities.
- We got more moms the mental health services they need and advanced research on safe medications for pregnant and breastfeeding women: The 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law in early December, makes grants to states to increase screening for and treatment of postpartum depression and; also establishes a task force to work on some of the complicated issues around including pregnant and breastfeeding women in clinical research and make recommendations on how to do so, which will increase our knowledge of safe medications for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
In the states and locally:
- Across the nation, March of Dimes secured 110 state or local legislative and regulatory wins across a wide range of Foundation-wide priorities to improve the health of women and children. California led the way with 14 victories, an all-time high shared with only one other state (Washington had 14 wins in 2015). Tennessee and Vermont secured eight wins each with Georgia, Illinois and New York not far behind with seven each.
- We are getting more newborns screened for more conditions: Screening all newborns for conditions on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP) was established in the following states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and Washington.
- We are saving more infants from drug-exposure: March of Dimes worked to pass important initiatives to prevent newborns from being born exposed to opioids and other drugs in Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois, Tennessee and Vermont.
- We are decreasing the risk of premature births: New tobacco-related initiatives (including raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21) were passed in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Vermont to help ensure fewer pregnant women and babies are harmed by tobacco and nicotine products.
Congratulations and thank you for being a March of Dimes advocate, working with us to give babies everywhere a fighting chance!