The economic and societal costs

Medical costs for a premature baby are much, much greater than they are for a healthy newborn. In 2005, preterm birth cost the United States at least $26.2 billion, or $51,600 for every infant born prematurely. The costs broke down as follows:

  • $16.9 billion (65 percent) for medical care
  • $1.9 billion (7 percent) for maternal delivery
  • $611 million (2 percent) for early intervention services
  • $1.1. billion (4 percent) for special education services
  • $5.7 billion (22 percent) for lost household and labor market productivity

The average first-year medical costs, including both inpatient and outpatient care, were about 10 times greater for preterm infants ($32,325) than for full-term infants ($3,325).

These estimates come from Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention, a report published by the Institute of Medicine (2006) and funded in part by the March of Dimes.

Who pays the bill?
You do. All health care payers — employers, health plans, federal and state Medicaid programs, and individuals — share the cost of caring for premature babies.

See also: The cost to business

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).