Sens. Bennet, Alexander and Reps. Eshoo, Lance Introduce Bipartisan PREEMIE Act

Bipartisan Launch to Expand Research and Intervention for Premature Births

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), together with Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), introduced the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, to expand research, education and intervention activities related to preterm birth. This legislation will specifically help reduce preterm birth, prevent newborn death and disability caused by premature birth, and expand research into the causes of preterm birth. It also will promote the development, availability, and uses of evidence-based standards of care for pregnant women. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will reauthorize the legislation signed into law in December 2006.

“Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death and is more common in the United States than many other developed countries, but there is still so much we don’t know about it,” said Sen. Michael Bennet. “This bipartisan effort is an important step to reduce preterm births, prevent disabilities associated with preterm births and protect some of our youngest and most vulnerable.”

“This bill will allow the scientists and doctors researching premature births to continue working to determine what causes this serious problem and how it can be prevented,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander.  “With an average of 236 premature babies a week born in Tennessee, there’s still more progress to be made.”

“This legislation will help identify the causes of premature births, and work to prevent them,” Rep. Anna G. Eshoo said. “Every year, half a million babies are born too early and this effort will help to reduce these numbers. I hope this bill will prevent the heartache that so many families suffer from today.”

"Each year more than half a million babies are born prematurely.  Although the medical community has made great strides in identifying the many risk factors associated with premature births, too many premature births today have no known cause. The reauthorization of the PREEMIE Act is an important bipartisan effort that will provide continued research, education and intervention of prematurity and low birth weight.  It’s our hope that this bill will ultimately decrease the number of premature births in the near future," said Rep. Leonard Lance.

“The March of Dimes applauds the leadership of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) for their introduction of the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, a bill to advance our understanding of the causes of preterm birth and drive treatment and prevention,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes.  “Renewal of the 2006 PREEMIE Act is a vital component of March of Dimes’ comprehensive efforts across the country to reduce the number of infant deaths and childhood disabilities caused by premature birth, which is estimated to cost our society $26 billion a year. We are making progress – preterm birth rates have dropped for three consecutive years.  The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act will build upon this momentum and provide us with new tools and knowledge to improve the lives and health of America’s mothers and children.”

This year in the U.S. alone, approximately 28,000 babies will die before their first birthday, 36 percent of those from pre-term birth complications. 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 (IOM), 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, and this number does not even include the cost of medical care beyond early childhood or caretaker costs such as lost wages.

This legislation is supported by the March of Dimes Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.