Amerigroup, March of Dimes take on problem of smoking while pregnant in Tennessee


Tennessee ranks among the top states in the nation with the highest prevalence of pregnant smokers, according to the  March of Dimes.

Smoking among pregnant woman has been proven to increase the chance of premature births and other adverse birth outcomes.

The March of Dimes has announced a $60,870 grant from Amerigroup Foundation to help prevent premature birth and improve the health of moms and babies across the state of Tennessee by supporting March of Dimes efforts in November to curb smoking. November also marks Prematurity Awareness Month and Nov. 17 is World Prematurity Day.

Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the U.S., and babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the toll on families, economic costs for prematurity are estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine.

The Amerigroup Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make smoking cessation available to additional women in Tennessee by supporting programs throughout the state.

Research has shown that babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy
are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to have birth defects, have a low birthweight or be born too soon.

“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and services for thousands of moms, to help them have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, seeks to raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth to 8.1 percent of births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030.

The $60,870 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Amerigroup Foundation’s
ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in Tennessee.

Through its Healthy Generations program, the Amerigroup Foundation is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues, among them, reducing the incidence of low birthweight babies and engaging mothers in prenatal care.

In 2015-2016, a $1 million grant from Amerigroup Foundation’s parent foundation helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to 6,600 women, including those reached by smoking cessation programs in three states.

To learn more about the Foundation, visit

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