May 07, 2007
April 26 -- To the Editor:
The March of Dimes, the largest charity devoted to the health of babies and mothers, continues to spend as much as $30 million annually on irrelevant, wasteful and cruel animal experiments. March of Dimes researchers still force pregnant animals to take cocaine and alcohol, even though we already know the effects of these substances on humans. Recent experiments funded by the March of Dimes include severely dehydrating pregnant sheep in an attempt to study adult human health problems like hypertension and tethering pregnant monkeys by their uteruses in cages smaller than federal guidelines recommend. Despite the millions of dollars spent, and the millions of animals killed, the incident rates of many birth defects remains on the rise.
Real advances in combating birth defects have resulted from human studies, such as the link between folic acid supplementation and reductions in the incidences of spina bifida and amencephaly. Also, fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes deformations and mental retardation in alcohol-exposed babies, is 100 percent preventable, yet there are not nearly enough treatment programs for women who need them. It has also been found that magnesium sulfate has a protective effect against cerebral palsy and mental retardation in babies with very low birth rates.
This spring, many community members will participate in the local March of Dimes WALKAmerica fund-raiser -- often unaware that the funds they raise can go directly toward misleading and cruel animal tests. Animal experiments are notoriously poor predictors regarding birth defects, and many even lead us in the wrong direction completely.
Thankfully enough, though, there are health charities that effectively help human babies and mothers without harming animals. These organizations have been awarded the Humane Charity Seal of Approval, verifying that they promote human health through only the best patient services, health education and modern humane-relevant research. To learn about these charities, visit www.HumaneSeal.org, or for a local contact, phone 224-1361.
I hope that this year, compassionate health charity supporters will choose to make their donations cruelty-free.