Authors of the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act (S. 252) Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) released the following statements after the Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent. The bill reauthorizes the original PREEMIE Act, which Eshoo authored in 2006 to reduce infant deaths and disabilities by expanding research, education, and intervention activities related to preterm birth. The reauthorization recently passed the House and now goes to the president's desk for his signature.
"November marks Prematurity Awareness Month, and just days ago the March of Dimes announced that the preterm birth rate in America dropped for the sixth consecutive year to 11.5 percent largely due to the original PREEMIE Act," Eshoo said. "Building on this progress, I'm proud that Congress has voted to reauthorize the law so we can continue to eradicate preterm birth in America, resulting in healthier babies and saving approximately $9 billion in extra health care costs."
"This is how Congress should work," said Lance. "Together in a bipartisan fashion we have crafted legislation with a wonderful end result: healthier infants, intact families and billions of dollars in savings. This law will spur innovative research that will truly make a difference. I thank Congresswoman Eshoo for joining me in this effort and for the March of Dimes for its tireless advocacy."
"Today, one in every nine infants in our nation is born preterm," stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. "Prematurity can lead to a host of adverse health consequences for these babies and place a terrible strain on their families. In addition, preterm birth carries a significant cost to businesses and our economy. Each preterm birth costs, on average, 12 times as much as a full-term birth, meaning that care for each preterm baby costs more than that for the other eight full-term infants combined. The March of Dimes commends the U.S. Congress for passing the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act to help prevent preterm birth and research its causes. We are deeply grateful to the bill's sponsors, Representatives Anna Eshoo and Leonard Lance, for championing this issue vital to children and families."
The March of Dimes recently reported that in 2012 11.5 percent of U.S. births were preterm, compared to 12.8 percent in 2006. The organization estimates that since 2006, about 176,000 fewer babies have been born too soon because of improvement in the preterm birth rate.
In addition to being the leading cause of newborn death, premature birth can cause a lifetime of health challenges and intellectual disabilities for those children who do survive. According to the Institute of Medicine, the annual societal costs associated with preterm birth were $26.2 billion in 2005 or $51,600 per infant born preterm. Nearly two-thirds of this $26.2 billion estimate was spent on medical care, a figure that does not include the cost of medical care beyond early childhood or caretaker costs such as lost wages. Employers, private insurers and individuals bear approximately half of the costs of health care for these infants, and another 40 percent is paid by Medicaid.
S.252 reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's research and programs on preterm birth, including improving national data tracking on preterm birth, and conducting studies. The bill also adds prenatal care for high-risk pregnancies to the Health Resources and Services Administration tele-health network grant program.
The bill also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary's Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality to develop a plan for conducting and supporting research, education and programs on preterm birth within the first year of enactment, and requires the HHS secretary to coordinate existing studies on hospital readmission of preterm infants and to report on recommendations within a year of enactment.
Click Here for state-by-state information on preterm birth rates.
The following organizations have endorsed the bill:
March of Dimes
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association on Health and Disability
American College of Nurse-Midwives
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Public Health Association
American Thoracic Society
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Council of Women's and Infants' Specialty Hospitals
Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of Neonatal Nurses
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine