Illinois-based NOW, a family-owned manufacturer of dietary supplements, has provided more than $100,000 in funding and vitamin D supplements to support Protect Our Children NOW!, a two-year grassroots prenatal Vitamin D project to improve birth outcomes and combat increased health care costs associated with vitamin D deficiency in utero. The pilot program, spearheaded by GrassrootsHealth, an international nonprofit public health promotion organization, will be conducted at the Western Montana Clinic (WMC) in Missoula, MT, with hopes to expand to other cities in the near future.
Montana currently holds a grade C in preterm birth rate, and is ranked 29th in the nation. According to the March of Dimes, Montana’s current preterm birth rate is 9.3 percent, and the annual cost is estimated to be $71 million for the state. However, research has shown at least 50 percent of the cost ($35 million) could be saved and potential preterm births prevented with proper prenatal education, vitamin D supplementation and screening.
“NOW’s mission is to empower people to lead healthier lives,” said Jim Emme, NOW’s CEO. “We are honored to partner with GrassrootsHealth to provide vitamin D to these pregnant women in an effort to have a positive impact on their pregnancies as well as the future health of their children.”
At WMC, NOW will provide $60,000 in vitamin D-3 5,000 IU Chewables. Participants who qualify for the program will receive the supplements (also provided by Illinois-based Carlson Labs), as well as educational materials, access to an online forum and a local support contact. Further blood tests will measure vitamin D serum levels at 24 weeks and at 36 weeks gestation. Doctors and nurses at WMC will also receive continuing medical education activities on the importance of vitamin D testing and supplementation in pregnant women.
“We couldn’t have launched this program without the generous support of our partners like NOW, and it’s our hope that we can prompt other institutions across the country to follow suit,” said Carole Baggerly, founder and director of GrassrootsHealth.
For more information, visit www.nowfoods.com.