Several senators and congressman introduced the bipartisan PREEMIE Reauthorization Act last week, to renew a law that expands research, education, and intervention activities related to preterm birth.
The legislation is designed to help reduce preterm birth, prevent newborn death and disability caused by premature birth, and expand research into its causes. It also will promote the development, availability, and uses of evidence-based standards of care for pregnant women.
The bicameral legislation, which will reauthorize a bill signed into law in December 2006, was introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet, Colo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., along with Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and Leonard Lance, R-N.J.
“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 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.”
Alexander said Tennessee averages 236 premature births a week. “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,” he said.
Eshoo concurred. “This legislation will help identify the causes of premature births, and work to prevent them,” 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.”
Lance said the reauthorization of the PREEMIE Act is critical to “ultimately decrease the number of premature births in the near future.”
The legislation drew praise from 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,” said Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “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,” she said. “This year in the U.S. alone, approximately 28,000 babies will die before their first birthday — 36 percent of those from preterm birth complications.”
The legislation is also supported by 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.
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