Surgeon General's conference on prevention of preterm birth
Over the course of 3 years, millions of active March of Dimes volunteers and staff across the nation worked with representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle to enact the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450). The PREEMIE Act calls for expanding federal support for research, education and pilot testing strategies to prevent preterm birth.
A key provision of PREEMIE is the convening of a Surgeon General's conference on preterm birth to create a public-private agenda to accelerate the development of new strategies for preventing preterm birth and for treating babies who are born too soon.
Held June 16-17, 2008, in Rockville, Maryland, the conference brought together experts from the public and private sectors to address the complex, costly, and heartbreaking problem of preterm birth. Both days of the sessions were opened by Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, MD. MPH, RADM, USPHS; Dr. Duane Alexander, then director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer Howse who spoke of the need for leadership to build momentum and public-private collaboration, support implementation of interventions, and recognize success.
At the conclusion of the conference, it was clear that in order to reduce the societal, economic, and human costs of this epidemic, prevention of preterm birth must become a national health priority bringing the same sense of urgency and focus that surround other threats to children's health, including secondhand tobacco smoke and rising rates of obesity.
March of Dimes staff and volunteers were key participants in each of the six workgroups (.PDF, 67K) that developed goals (.PDF, 196K) for an action plan. The goals were presented to the Surgeon General at the conclusion of the conference. In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent to Congress the summary report.
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.