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Federal advocacy

  • We advocate for prevention and wellness initiatives.
  • Preventing prematurity is our current national campaign.
  • Areas of focus also include newborn screening and immunizations.
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PREEMIE Act summary of provisions

PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450) Sponsors: Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Total cosponsors: 43 Senators and 90 Representatives.


In 2003, the PREEMIE Act (S. 1726) was introduced in the 108th Congress and a hearing was held in the Senate. A companion bill (H.R. 3350) was introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

On April 5, 2005, in the first session of the 109th Congress, the PREEMIE Act was introduced in the Senate. In June, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions ordered the bill to be reported favorably by unanimous consent. On June 9, 2005, a companion bill was introduced in the House (H.R. 2861) and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

On August 1, 2006, the Senate approved the PREEMIE Act unanimously. On December 9, 2006, the House of Representatives passed the bill. The President signed the PREEMIE Act into law on December 22, 2006.

Throughout the process, the March of Dimes, worked closely with its Prematurity Campaign Partners--the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses--and many other organizations advocating for the enactment.

Summary of provisions

1. Expansion of federal research related to preterm labor and delivery, and the care and treatment, and outcomes of preterm and low birthweight infants.

  • Authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to “expand, intensify and coordinate” activities related to prematurity.
  • Authorizes ongoing epidemiological studies on the relationship between prematurity and birth defects and developmental disabilities.
  • Asks the CDC to collect additional information such as maternal and infant clinical/medical information to link with their existing Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) to track pregnancy outcomes and prevent preterm birth. Authorizes $3,000,000 each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011.
  • Asks the Secretary to assess other relevant tools, systems, surveys, etc. to ensure that they include information related to some of the known risk factors of low birth weight and preterm birth.
  • Authorizes $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011 (not including PRAMS provision) to carry out expansion of CDC activities.

2. Public and provider education and support services.

  • Authorizes demonstration projects to help disseminate information on prematurity to health professionals and other providers, as well as to the public. Projects may include development of information on the signs of preterm labor; screening for and treating infections; counseling on optimal weight and good nutrition (including folic acid); smoking cessation education and counseling; stress management; and appropriate prenatal care.
  • Authorizes demonstration projects to improve treatment and outcomes for babies born prematurely and to respond to the informational needs of families during NICU stay or infant death.
  • Authorizes $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011 to carry out these demonstration projects.

3. Establishment of an Interagency Coordinating Council on Prematurity and Low Birthweight (LBW).

  • To stimulate multidisciplinary research, scientific exchange, and collaboration among the agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Council will be composed of federal agency representatives appointed by the Secretary of HHS.
  • The Council will report to HHS Secretary and appropriate committees of Congress on current HHS activities relating to prematurity and LBW, carryout other activities determined appropriate by Secretary and oversee the implementation of this Act.

4. Surgeon General's Conference on Preterm Birth

  • Not later than 1 year after enactment, the Surgeon General shall convene a conference on preterm birth.
  • The conference shall establish an agenda for activities in both the public and private sectors related to preterm birth.
  • The Secretary of HHS shall submit to Congress and make available to the public a report on the agenda established at the conference.
  • Authorizes $125,000 for the conference, but does not provide an authorization level for the report.

Have questions?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of government programs for women and children?

Title V of the Social Security Act, was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Title V, or the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services program, pledged support to states to provide services that would protect the "health of our nation's mothers and children."

What federal agencies are involved in premature birth research?

Multiple federal agencies support prematurity-related research but among the most engaged are the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health and Maternal and Infant Health Research within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can I learn what conditions newborns are screened for in my state?

Two key resources are the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center and the March of Dimes. You can easily compare state programs on our Peristats website.

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