The cost to business

Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billon every year, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The March of Dimes contracted with Thomson Reuters to estimate the cost of prematurity to health insurance plans of large employers. Here are some of the findings:

  • In 2007, the average medical costs for a preterm baby were more than 10 times as high as they were for a healthy full-term baby. The costs for a healthy baby from birth to his first birthday were $4,551. For a preterm baby, the costs were $49,033.
  • When a baby came early in 2007, the medical costs for both the mother and the baby were four times as high as they were when a mom had a healthy full-term infant. For the full-term infant, the costs were $15,047; for the preemie, the costs were $64,713. These expenses included outpatient visits, in-hospital care and prescriptions.
  • Preterm babies spend more time in the hospital than healthy babies do. The average length of hospital stays for a term infant for the first year of life in 2005 was 2.3 days; for a preterm infant the average length was 14.2 days.

Preemies also need more outpatient visits and prescriptions.

Most common questions

How does the Campaign work to achieve its goals?

The campaign funds research to find the causes of premature birth, and to identify and test promising interventions; educates health care providers and women about risk-reduction strategies; advocates to expand access to health care coverage to improve maternity care and infant health outcomes; provides information and emotional support to families affected by prematurity; and generates concern and action around the problem.

What are the goals of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign?

The goals of the Prematurity Campaign are to reduce the rate of premature birth, and to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the problem.

Why is the problem of prematurity so important?

Prematurity is the leading killer of America's newborns. Those who survive often have lifelong health problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).