HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Alabama Chapter of March of Dimes is hosting its March For Babies fundraiser on May 7.

The organization has a mission to help families by promoting overall wellness for moms and their children.
The March for Babies is a fundraiser to raise money for research, programs and advocacy so mothers and babies can get the best possible start.

According to data from the March of Dimes, The U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth, especially for women and babies of color.

The Alabama Department of Health’s infant mortality report shows the state had a decrease in infant mortality rate in 2020 at 7 deaths for every 1,000 live births; however, that is still significantly higher than the national average of 5.6.

The March of Dimes says statistics also show health inequity. Black families had the highest infant mortality rate at 12.0, followed by Asian/Pacific Islanders at 7.2.  In Alabama, the preterm birth rate among Black women is 52% higher than the rate among all other women.

The organization says data from 2020 shows Alabama’s preterm birth rate is 12.9%, which is much higher than the national average of 10.1%. That means that 1 in 8 babies were born too soon.

Baby Rylyn

Jordin Daughenbaugh, mother to four-year-old Rylyn, knows the struggles families can go through when their baby is born prematurely.

Rylyn was born in 2018. She was born at 25 weeks. She weighed 1.8 pounds, was 13 inches long and was immediately intubated and taken to the NICU.

“At the time I didn’t know much about prematurity. I didn’t even know that even babies that young could survive,” the mom said.

After 108 days, Rylyn was able to come home from the NICU. Daughenbaugh says Rylyn has continued on her health journey related to her premature birth. On Daughenbaugh’s fundraising page she describes life after getting out of the hospital.

“Our lives have been full of doctors appointments, therapy sessions, feeding issues and lung issues. I ended up having to resign from my job to stay home and keep Rylyn in isolation so she wouldn’t get sick and back in the hospital,” Daughenbaugh explained. “We have made many changes and sacrifices in our lives but Rylyn is turning four in March [she turned four in 2022] and she is truly our little miracle. She is a ball of energy, never stops moving and never stops talking.”

Daughenbaugh says through Rylyn’s birth and time at the NICU the family got involved with March For Babies. She says they advocate for more awareness for premature birth as well as better health care for moms and babies. She also hopes her efforts help raise funds for better technology and increased advocacy.

“I think it is super important to share our story because I knew very little about the NICU, I knew very little about prematurity, I didn’t know very much at all. So, when Rylyn was born my husband and I were kind of thrown through a whirlwind and so I really want to make sure that other women and other families like ours learn more about prematurity and the things these babies go through,” Daughenbaugh explained.

The March For Babies is taking place in Huntsville at Hudson Alpha on Saturday, May 7th. For more information on how to get involved visit the March For Babies website.