Every year, 20 million babies are born to soon, too small and very sick — half a million of them in the United States. In an effort to reduce the increase in prematurity around the world, we are joining BloggersUnite.org and March of Dimes to spread awareness and funding for continued education and research. We are honored to dedicate today's post in order to highlight one of the many companies supporting March of Dimes during the month of November.

MCHENRY, Ill. — Medela will host a Virtual Human Milk (breastmilk) Collection Campaign in honor of the March of Dimes' National Prematurity Awareness Month and the thousands of dedicated Neonatal healthcare professionals nationwide.

Throughout the month of November, individuals can visit Medela's website to register their vote for their preferred Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The four NICUS, one in each of four geographic regions, that obtain the most votes will receive at least $5,000 each worth of Medela products or education services for their facility.

"Medela is committed to providing Neonatal healthcare professionals with products and education to help them better promote and provide the life saving benefits of breastmilk for the premature infants in their care," says Carolin Archibald, vice president, professional business at Medela Inc. "Human milk works like a medicine to help protect premature babies from many complications during and after their hospital stay."

Research shows the more human milk feedings, the better the health outcomes for the infant. Feeding human milk rather than formula in the NICU has shown to reduce the length of hospital stay, reduce the days of oxygen therapy needed, reduce the incidence of late onset sepsis, Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC), ear infections, serious respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis.

By voting, individuals are helping their preferred NICUs to potentially receive products and services from Medela. Each individual may only vote for one NICU. Winning NICU facilities will be notified by December 10, 2009. Full participation guidelines, terms and conditions are available at Medela's website.

"It is critical to equip NICUs with the products and knowledge needed to promote and provide the life giving benefits of human milk to the one in eight babies born prematurely each year in the U.S.," adds Archibald. "We hope this Virtual Human Milk Collection campaign brings awareness to this issue while rewarding outstanding NICU facilities that care for premature infants."

Medela has invested in the fight for preemies, but also in their products' ability to improve infant health. This demonstrates the company's passion for their product and the positive impact they believe it can have on the future of neonatal care.

Many companies began with a vision for improving one thing or another. Getting back to the foundation of why you started may inspire you to make a difference for a cause that desperately needs your help.