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Ohio 7-Year-Old Born Too Soon, Survives And Thrives To Become March Of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador

Nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born too soon each year. Babies who survive an early birth often have breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and other lifelong problems. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.

The Centofantis have been dedicated March of Dimes volunteers for several years. In 2012, Vince joined more than 1000 colleagues at GE in Cincinnati to raise more than $240,000 for their March for Babies campaign.  

"Even though Chris and I had experience in the NICU and working with the March of Dimes, nothing could have prepared us for having our own preemie," Vince says.

While pregnant with Nina, Chris felt unwell at 31 weeks and went to the hospital. She was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a form of high blood pressure with elevated liver enzymes and a low blood platelet count. It is a rare, but potentially life-threatening illness that typically occurs late in pregnancy. The only treatment is to deliver the baby as soon as possible.

For the next 48 hours, Chris was treated with steroids to help develop baby Nina's lungs before birth. At birth, Nina was immediately transferred to the NICU, where she spent the next five weeks.

In addition, the Centofantis have an older son Nick, and a second daughter, Mia, who was born at 35 weeks of pregnancy, thanks in part to weekly progesterone treatments which reduced the risk of Chris going into premature labor.

"Even though things didn't go as planned, we've been blessed with three healthy children, thanks in large part to the work of the March of Dimes.  Just a few years ago, the outcome might have been very different," says Chris. United Airlines is the official airline sponsor of the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program for the 8 th consecutive year, and a National Sponsor of March of Dimes March for Babies.  With an employee base of 85,000 strong, United is committed to making the communities it serves a priority, and is helping the March of Dimes reach hundreds of thousands of families with important information about having healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, 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 marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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