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Challenges of birth

Connie Steiert
Special to the Daily
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EAGLE – Other than being a bit small for her age, Cayla Woodworth is a typical 4-year-old girl. She’s looking forward to dancing the role of an absent-minded mouse at an upcoming dance class recital. She’s proud of her pink cowboy boots. She’s excited about celebrating Easter. A bystander wouldn’t guess that Cayla was a mere 1 pound 10.5 ounces at birth. Nor would an onlooker realize the role the March of Dimes played in that tiny infant’s fight to survive. For the third year in a row, Cayla’s grateful mom, Ann Woodworth of Eagle, will don her walking shoes and join the March of Dimes WalkAmerica marathon in Denver on April 29 to raise money to help combat premature births and birth defects. The event is the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, and Woodworth is seeking both participants and sponsors for the event.Every year, nearly 500,000 infants are born prematurely. The rate is rapidly growing, rising from 9.4 percent to 12.3 percent between 1981 and 2003. Today, one in eight babies will be born prematurely. Some won’t survive and others will have birth defects or health problem that could plague them all their lives. Breathing problemsOn the way from Eagle to Michigan to visit family, Woodworth, four months pregnant at the time, started feeling some discomfort. She didn’t think much about it – surely it was just the normal, occasional twinges and discomforts most pregnant women experience. After all, this was her second pregnancy, and her first daughter had been born big and healthy.”I wasn’t reading the signs,” Woodworth says now of the back pains and aches that turned out to be contractions. She was just 24 weeks along when her water broke. Cayla came a week later, born at a Michigan hospital.

Things were touch and go for Cayla as she fought for her life for much of the 15 weeks she spent in hospitals. It was a terrifying experience for Ann and her husband, Daryl.Eventually, the tiny baby girl grew strong enough to be transported to Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, where she stayed for another month. “We had a roller coaster ride there for a while,” Woodworth says.Among the many health problems that can face premature babies, Woodworth says, is coming into the world without enough of a vital substance in the lungs called surfactant. Basically the consistency of soap, surfactant keeps the air sacks in the lungs from sticking together. Without it, babies’ lungs may not open fully, causing great difficulty breathing.Cayla was given a medicine that mimics surfactant, enabling her to breathe with greater ease. “It’s the reason so many premature babies survive these days,” Woodworth says.Many other momsAs Cayla recovered, Woodworth researched the problem and found that the March of Dimes organization was one of the main contributors of funds for the research and development of synthetic surfactant. In fact, the organization played a significant role in creating the medicine Cayla received.

The organization also funds research to combat birth defects and find treatments for other infant health problems.”It’s not just premature babies,” Woodworth says. “They are also trying to get information out to mother’s about how to take care of babies ahead of time.”So grateful was Woodworth for the health of her own daughter, she wanted to find a way to give back. March of Dimes seemed the logical place to start.For the past two years, Woodworth has done the 10k WalkAmerica on her own. The first year, she bumped into some of the very nurses who had taken care of Cayla at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s. They recognized her by the picture of Cayla that was printed on her T-shirt.”For me, that was a very emotional day,” Woodworth says . “So many people were there because of their babies.” One time, another woman from Eagle County, who’d also had a premature baby, joined her. “We had a great time,” says Woodworth. This year, however, she’d like to bring an entire contingent from Eagle County with her to Denver’s WalkAmerica. Last year, Woodworth raised $1,200 from her sponsorships. This year, her personal goal is to raise $2,000. A whole team from Eagle County, of course, could probably raise far more.For the past few weeks, Woodworth has been passing out flyers and putting up posters all over the valley.



“I know there are so many other moms out there who’ve had premature babies,” she states.==========================================The teamFor more information about Ann Woodworth’s Eagle County WalkAmerica Team contact her at 328-0565 or woodwicki@centurytel.net. You can also visit wakamerica.org/EagleCounty.The raceWhat: WalkAmerica in Denver, March of Dimes largest fundraiser to help support infant health.

When: 9 a.m. kick-off time on April 29Where: Denver, Civic Center Park at 14th and BroadwayFor more information: marchofdimes.com or walkamerica.org/EagleCounty.==========================================Vail, Colorado


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