Preemies, newborns get extra care

BURLINGTON - The March of Dimes delivered over 1600 items of baby clothing to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care last week as a gift of support and comfort for families who are faced with the challenge of having a critically ill newborn.

Items included new outfits and handmade sweaters, burial gowns, blankets, hats and booties that were collected by March of Dimes volunteers during National Prematurity Awareness Month. Items will be distributed through the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program which provides educational materials, parent hours and other resources that help families whose babies spend time in the NICU.

"Many parents don't expect to spend their first days, weeks or months in the NICU," said March of Dimes program director Michelle Wallace. "The extremely small size of many of these infants makes it difficult to find clothing that fits, and when it can be found, is often beyond the affordable range of many families."

Shelli Guay of Milton had twins that were born eight weeks early.

"When our daughters were born just four years ago, there were few preemie outfits to be found, so we took a special interest - and pride - in being part of a program that changed that," said Guay. "Something as simple as baby clothes gives the families of preemies a sense of normalcy in a situation that is anything but. Knowing that the outfit was donated - or even handmade - by your community gives an added level of support that is both needed and appreciated."

March of Dimes volunteers and staff presented 1,600 items of preemie and newborn clothing to the staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Vermont Children's Hospital last week.

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