Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. chapters across the country held premature awareness events during November. The effort was a response to the significant rise in premature births, according to a news release.

In Pine Bluff, congregations that participated included Barraque Street Missionary Baptist Church, Old St. James Missionary Baptist Church, True Vine “E” Missionary Baptist Church, God’s Elect and Chosen Few Intercessory Prayer, St. James United Methodist Church and Bethany Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.

Zeta members in more than 850 communities across America conducted premature awareness activities with ministries. Worshippers learned more about the health crisis that nearly half a million families cope with each year. This year marked the 15th year of Zeta’s participation by helping to lead this nationwide grassroots campaign, according to the release.

The March of Dimes held a World Prematurity Day Observance Nov. 17.

“Prematurity affects one out of 10 babies born in the United States today. The rate has increased 29 percent since 1981. The numbers are even more alarming for African-American babies who have a one-in-six chance of being born too soon,” according to the release.

“Prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborn (in the first month of life) and many babies who survive leave the hospital with lifelong health conditions or developmental disabilities that will place additional financial burden on the family,” according to the release.

“That’s why the March of Dimes is leading a national effort to save babies from premature birth by funding research to find the causes, and by supporting programs that offer hope and help to families with a baby in intensive care. As part of that effort, November is designated as Prematurity Awareness Month to remind the public that premature birth is a crisis and to bring people together to help give all babies their nine months,”according to the release.

Epsilon Zeta Zeta is the local Zeta Phi Beta chapter and Anissa Buckner is the chapter president. Details: www.zphib1920.org.