The PREEMIE Act Renews Programs Aimed At Understanding The Causes Of Preterm Birth And Improving Infant Health Outcomes
May 12 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced legislation to improve pregnancy outcomes and infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.
The Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act of 2023 will reauthorize critical federal research, education, and intervention activities to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality. The legislation will also authorize a study to better understand the factors that lead to preterm birth and identify effective prevention and treatment options.
The preterm birth rate in the U.S. has increased by four percent since 2020, with over 383,000 infants born prematurely in 2021. In the same year, 12 percent of babies in Arkansas were born preterm. Premature birth can lead to significant developmental delays and chronic health problems for infants. While preterm delivery can happen in any pregnancy, the rate of preterm birth for Black and Native American mothers is disproportionately high.
“Investments in research and education programs are improving the health of newborns, but there is still more work to be done to help the 12 percent of babies born premature in Arkansas. This legislation is critical to decreasing preterm births, reducing infant mortality and increasing opportunities for children to lead long and healthy lives,” Boozman said.
“In an average week in Colorado, 117 babies are born prematurely. We need to support more research to understand the causes of preterm births and ensure more moms have access to the care they need and deserve,” said Bennet. “Reauthorizing the PREEMIE Act will continue lifesaving research to prevent premature delivery and give mothers and babies a healthy start in life.”
The PREEMIE Act reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s research and data collection on infants born premature and programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration aimed at improving the treatment and outcomes for these newborns. This includes grants to help doctors and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat pregnant women for depression and substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. These programs are set to expire on September 30, 2023.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) and is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Jen Kiggans (R-VA).
Here is what doctors and other children’s health advocates are saying about the PREEMIE Act:
“Every baby deserves to receive the best possible start, but for too many in the U.S. that isn’t the case. Our 2022 Report Card shows that the U.S. preterm birth rate increased to 10.5 percent -- the highest recorded rate since 2007. That’s more than 383,000 babies who are born too sick and too soon each year,” said March of Dimes Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Government Affairs Stacey Y. Brayboy. “Preterm birth and its complications are a leading cause of infant death in the U.S. and globally. Now more than ever we need to increase our investment in research and community support to families affected by preterm birth. The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act is the only federal law dedicated to preventing and treating preterm birth and is a critical step towards reversing this increasingly devastating trend and ensuring babies have the best possible start in life.”
“Approximately one in 10 infants in the United States is born prematurely despite decades of research and clinical advancement,” said American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President Iffath A. Hoskins, MD, FACOG. “ACOG strongly endorses the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act to continue critical work towards preventing preterm birth and address the devastating effects on infants, patients and families. Improvements in data collection and investment in new research will improve clinical guidance and help develop effective strategies that will advance health equity and eliminate adverse birth outcomes. We thank Senators Bennet and Boozman and Representatives Eshoo, Burgess, Miller-Meeks and Kelly for their commitment to this important issue.”
“Nemours Children’s Health applauds the re-introduction of the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act. In the U.S., prematurity continues to be a public health concern. It is the second leading cause of deaths in newborns with one in 10 babies born prematurely. This important legislation would reduce prematurity by advancing research to address and treat preterm births, helping to create the healthiest generations of children,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, Nemours Children’s Health’s Executive Vice President, Chief Population Health Officer.
“DSM-Firmenich appreciates and supports the outstanding bipartisan leadership to reauthorize the PREEMIE Act. We look forward to working with the congressional champions to address the preterm birth crisis in the United States,” said Hugh Welsh, President, DSM-Firmenich North America.
The PREEMIE Act was first signed into law in 2006 to help reduce infant mortality.
The bill text is available here.