Pearl Luella Kendrick researched prevention for pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during the mid-1900s. Pertussis is a respiratory disease that mainly affects infants and young children. During the 1920s, pertussis was responsible for more deaths in children in the United States than any other disease. In the 1930s, Kendrick created one of the first pertussis vaccines that underwent large-scale clinical trials. Towards the end of her career, Kendrick helped developed combination vaccines for other common childhood diseases at the time, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and poliomyelitis. She also studied immune responses in infants whose mothers had pertussis antibodies that transferred to them during pregnancy. Kendrick helped lower the incidence and death rate of pertussis and other common childhood diseases in the US through the creation of vaccines.
William Thornton Mustard was a surgeon in Canada during the twentieth century who developed surgical techniques to treat children who had congenital heart defects. Mustard has two surgeries named after him, both of which he helped to develop. The first of these surgeries replaces damaged or paralyzed muscles in individuals who have polio, a virus that can cause paralysis. The other technique corrects a condition called the transposition of the great arteries (TGA) that is noticed at birth. Surgeons worldwide adopted that technique, leading to increased survival rates in infants afflicted with the condition. Mustard also published over 100 articles on congenital heart defects, surgical techniques, and the preparation of an artificial heart lung machine. Mustard helped perform the first blood transfusion of a newborn whose red blood cells (RBCs) had degraded, a condition called hemolytic anemia. Throughout his career, Mustard developed surgical techniques that increased the survival rates of infants and children with congenital and developmental disorders.
The March of Dimes Foundation, or the March of Dimes, is a non-profit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, focused on the health of pregnant women and infants in the US. Former United States president Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes, then called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, in 1938 to address polio. Polio is a viral illness that infects the spinal cord and may lead to paralysis. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, which left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. During the 1960s, after scientists introduced polio vaccines, March of Dimes shifted its focus to prevent preterm birth and birth defects. As a non-profit organization, March of Dimes provides community service, funds for research, and efforts to educate the public about preterm birth and birth defects. While March of Dimes’ original goal was to help reduce the spread of polio in the US, it was also one of the first organizations to lead a campaign to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.