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President Franklin Roosevelt

The March of Dimes Foundation was created in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt. This foundation was originally named the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was created to help with the growing Polio epidemic throughout the United States in the early 1930's to mid 1950's. As a result of this foundation's creation, the Polio epidemic is almost nonexistent with a vaccine now available. The mission of this organization today is to help mothers achieve a healthy full term pregnancy and research the problems that threaten the health of all babies. The March of Dimes Foundation provides mothers with information on every step of health treatment from before you are pregnant, while pregnant and after the baby is born. This foundation's main focus is to do whatever it can to prevent complications during pregnancy, as well as to research and cure as many premature health defects as possible.

See also other local services & organizations.


The foundation was an important cause to the President because he suffered from Polio himself and was never able to walk again. The mission of the foundation was "to lead, direct and unify" the fight against Polio. Basil O’Connor, a close associate of FDR during his presidency, became the head of the March of Dimes for over three decades, and his first task in 1938 was to build an organization that could quickly respond to polio epidemics anywhere in the nation. After over a decade of research, a March of Dimes grantee, Jonas Salk, MD, found the right stran of a vaccine that spelled the end of polio in a matter of years. This discovery was highly publicized and was tested in a massive field trial in 1954. This study involved 1.8 million school children and became known as “polio pioneers,”. The Salk vaccine was licensed for use on April 12, 1955 and was announced to the nation as “safe, effective, and potent.” After this discovery the Polio epidemic started to rapidly decline and is one of the fastest decline rates the United States has ever seen of an illness.

Main Focus Today

Now that Polio is a disease under control in the United States the main goal of this organization now is focusing on birth defects. Most of the work now done through the March of Dimes has to deal with premature babies and the birth defects that come along with not reaching a full term pregnancy. The most recent was discovery was in Folic Acid which now showed a dramatic reduction in birth defects of the brain and spine. Discoveries like this help stop the sometimes fatal birth defects. In 2003, after the prematurity rate in the United States rose almost 25% the foundation determined it was time to go global. The Prematurity Campaign was launched to address this increase and help families have full-term, healthy babies. They fund research and speaking out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies. Worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely each year and it continues to be this foundations goal to reduce that number.


1 in 8 babies born, are born premature.

March of Dimes Scores:

  • A-preterm birthrate less than or equal to 9.6% (score less than or equal to 0)
  • B-preterm birthrates more than 9.6% but less than 11.3% (score greater than 0, less than 1)
  • C-preterm birthrates more than 11.3% but less than 12.9% (score greater than 1, less than 2)
  • D-preterm birthrates more than 12.9% but less than 14.6% (score greater than 2, less than 3)
  • F- preterm birthrates more than 14,6% (score greater than 3)


November is National Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17th is World Prematurity Day. The March of Dimes foundation is always accepting volunteers. They have many different ways to volunteer from online support, to helping organize walks and donations from our community. The largest event that this organization has every year is the March of Dimes walk. This walk is held across the United States and one in Northern California every year. If you want to get involved more or simply make a donation to the cause there is more information on their website.


This report was written for Cynthia Linville's English 20 class at CSUS Sacramento, fall 2011.