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Public Statements

National Prematurity Awareness Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DODD. I thank my colleague. I am pleased to join my good friend, the senior Senator from Tennessee, in this effort. Five years ago, we stood on this floor discussing the risks, costs, and toll of premature birth. Following three decades of increases, in 2008, the Nation achieved the first 2-year decline in the preterm birth rate to 12.3 percent. This rate is still too far from the Healthy People 2010 goal of 7.6 percent and our Nation earns only a ``D'' on the March of Dimes annual prematurity report card. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in an average week in Connecticut, 84 babies are born preterm. More than half a million babies still are born preterm each year, a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. I believe that the recent 2-year nationwide decline, albeit small, is encouraging and this should be the beginning of a positive trend. The recent developments must be supported by access to better health care, new research and new programs to lower the risk of preterm birth.

This is why the Senator from Tennessee and I have introduced the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers Who Deliver Infants Early Act. This important bill expands research into the causes and prevention of prematurity and increases education and support services related to prematurity. The March of Dimes has been an important partner through its leadership of a national prematurity campaign, but they cannot combat this serious and costly public health crisis alone. The Federal Government must partner with them to increase research on the causes of preterm birth. I hope more of my colleagues will join us in supporting this important bill.


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