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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meet the March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador Family

Chris and Vince Centofanti thought they knew all about preterm birth. She was a neonatal nurse-practitioner caring for critically ill babies, and he worked for GE Healthcare’s maternal-infant care division, providing specialized medical equipment to hospitals. But then their own baby, Nina, was born nine weeks early, weighing less than three pounds. She suffered from respiratory distress and spent her first five weeks fighting for her life in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

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.

Today, Nina Centofanti has grown into an active 7-year-old who loves to dance, climb trees and turn handsprings. She has been named the March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador. As ambassador, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, March for Babies. Yesterday, she and her parents were interviewed on Fox & Friends where they shared their story and support of March of Dimes programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies.

In addition to Nina, 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 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 be been very different,” says Chris. She adds, “Thanks to the care that Nina received, and the support of the March of Dimes for research and treatment, now we also know the relief and joy parents feel when their child survives and becomes healthy enough to leave the NICU and go home.”

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