WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth, especially for women and babies of color.

American Legion Post 124 hosted its annual fundraiser to benefit March of Dimes, an organization that is fighting what they say is an urgent maternal and infant health crisis here in the US.

The dinner has been a tradition since 1947 when the March of Dimes was focused on ending polio. They now work to provide care for premature babies and those with birth defects.

“It’s mainly veterans giving back to the community and building pride in our country,” said Erik Volk, American Legion Post 124 of Westfield. “This is part of it, giving to March of Dimes is part of our program that we can give, in the last five years, we have probably donated well over $10,000 to the March of Dimes.”

Here in Massachusetts, the pre-term birth rate among Black women is 25% higher than the rate among all other women. Locally, data also shows that mothers are most vulnerable in Hampden County, which was given a score of 39.9 by the Maternal Vulnerability Index.

A tool used nationwide identifies where and why moms in the U.S. are vulnerable to poor pregnancy outcomes. That’s the highest in the state.