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BABY RESEARCH: Raising Money For Healthy Start

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Having a baby born early can mean a long journey for the little ones and their families. One organization has helped all babies get a healthy start since the 1930's when it funded research for a polio vaccine. Now, March of Dimes is focusing on a growing problem.

Three year-old Caroline was anything but big when she came into this world with her brother Logan. Dad Mike Vogel says, "They started out barely a pound was Caroline and Logan was just barely three pounds. They were born 27 weeks, so really premature."

The Vogel twins were about the size of a smartphone. They spent 138 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Mom Melissa Vogel says, "It's been a long haul for us, the NICU was obviously stressful, but coming home was just as stressful. We had a lot of feeding issues and had to go to Iowa City for feeding therapy."

Logan and Caroline are healthy now and their parents say they have the doctors, nurses and an organization to thank. Melissa says, "March of Dimes developed surfactant, which is when preemies are born, their lungs stick together and so you put surfactant in them to keep them apart so they can breathe. So, we had several doses of that in the first week of life and they wouldn't have survived without that."

The Vogels are ambassadors for the March of Dimes March for Babies Walk happening May 10th. Organizers expect about 3,000 people to participate. They hope to raise $300,000. March of Dimes Division Director Shonda Hershberger says, "Nationally, 76 cents on the dollar, I believe, goes straight to research. In Iowa, it's 80 percent. We send a little more in."

Hershberger says March of Dimes money funded research for four of the 29 screenings every Iowa newborn gets in the hospital. Now a big focus is preventing babies being born prematurely. Research is even happening at the University of Iowa. Hershberger says, "Why it happens, how often it happens. One in eight babies is born premature in this country every year. That's over half a million babies a year. That's a problem and we're trying to find causes for it. "

The Vogels have raised more than $14,000 so far, along with awareness. Mike says, "I think it's great that we can give back, and it's an opportunity for us to reach out and say, hey there is help available."

The March of Dimes March for Babies Walk is Saturday, May 10, 2014. It's at the DMACC Campus in Ankeny. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The walk begins at 9:30 a.m. Click here for more information.