Mashariki Kudumu, MPH
Maternal and Infant Health Director, March of Dimes (Greater Los Angeles)
“March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We love to connect with parents, medical/health providers, researchers, policymakers and community members in this fight.”
PREEMIEWORLD: How long have you been working in your field?
MASHARIKI: 15+ years
PREEMIEWORLD: Why did you choose your current profession?
MASHARIKI: My work at March of Dimes is a perfect mix of what is meaningful to me in my profession–professional and consumer education, programs and services, advocacy, community engagement and support. I want families to have the tools and resources to have healthy and joyous births, and support when things do not go as planned.
PREEMIEWORLD: What do you want other professionals to know about what you do?
MASHARIKI: March of Dimes is one of the oldest and largest national organizations fighting for the health of moms and babies. We began that fight more than 80 years ago as an organization dedicated to eradicating polio in the U.S., a goal that we achieved. We continue that fight today as we work to address some of the biggest threats to moms and babies, such as premature birth and maternal mortality, through research, education, programs and advocacy.
I also lead March of Dimes local and statewide health equity efforts in California and Greater Los Angeles. The preterm birth rate has risen for the 5th year in a row in the U.S., California and Southern California. In California, Black women have a preterm birth rate that is 2-3 times higher than women of other races. To reduce our preterm birth rate, we must address the causes of these disparities. When we improve the birth outcomes of our most vulnerable moms, we improve birth outcomes for all moms and babies.
PREEMIEWORLD: What advice do you give to preemie parents?
MASHARIKI: You are not alone. Share your story and seek support. We do not always know the causes of premature birth and it’s not your fault. March of Dimes has helpful information and resources on our website (www.marchofdimes.org) and an online community at shareyourstory.org. Connecting with other preemie parents for advice, support and resources are invaluable in your parenting journey.
PREEMIEWORLD: Fun Facts: Tell us a fun or quirky fact about you
MASHARIKI: I’m a baseball Mama. Sitting in the stands, watching my son and his friends play the game they love is my happy place.
PREEMIEWORLD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
MASHARIKI: Preemie parents are close to my heart. I have nieces and nephews who were born at 24, 27 and 30 weeks. Advocating and supporting moms and families is my life’s work. Please feel free to reach out!