Commends Bill's Sponsors and Urges Swift Passage in Senate
Arlington, VA, December 14, 2023 – On the heels of March of Dimes’ latest Report Card showing the U.S. preterm birth rate remains alarmingly high at 10.4%, the U.S. House of Representatives took a big step forward in addressing the crisis, unanimously approving the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 3226) earlier this week. March of Dimes hailed the bipartisan vote that represents the government's commitment to prevent preterm birth and its consequences, the leading contributor to infant death.
The PREEMIE Act, which was spearheaded by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Jen Kiggans (R-VA), is the only federal law in the U.S. that focuses specifically on preterm birth and authorizes vital preterm birth research and surveillance programs, including the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). The legislation would commission a new study on the costs, impact of social factors, gaps in public health programs and call for recommendations to prevent preterm birth. Importantly, the legislation also would establish a group within HHS to coordinate all federal activities and programs related to preterm birth, infant mortality, and other adverse birth outcomes.
“Every baby deserves a healthy start and reauthorizing the PREEMIE Act will help us toward that goal," Rep. Eshoo said following House passage. "Since it was first passed in 2006, the PREEMIE Act has helped researchers and doctors identify the causes of premature births and work to prevent them. Still, every day in the U.S. one in ten babies is born premature. We cannot allow the U.S. to have one of the highest prematurity rates in the developed world. I urge my colleagues to swiftly reauthorize this important program."
March of Dimes, together with coalition partners, has successfully advocated for the bill's reauthorization every five years since its initial passage in 2006.
"We are grateful to Representatives Eshoo, Miller-Meeks, Burgess, Kelly, Blunt Rochester, and Kiggans for their strong leadership in securing unanimous passage in the House and urge the Senate to follow their lead," said March of Dimes President and CEO Dr. Elizabeth Cherot. "Our latest Report Card shows more than 380,000 babies were born before 37 weeks in 2022 and babies born to women of color are disproportionately impacted. Babies born too soon may face developmental delays, chronic respiratory problems, and vision and hearing impairment. Preterm birth impacts the entire family and that's why this legislation is so critical to our nation's families."
The March of Dimes Report Card shows stark disparities among Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations, reflecting inequities that continue to plague these communities. Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) women are 54% more likely to have a preterm birth as compared to White women. Early data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the infant mortality rate increased overall to 5.6 per 1,000 live births, with rates among babies born to Black and AI/AN moms 2.3 times higher than those born to White and Hispanic moms.
The next step in the legislative process is for the bill to be considered by the full Senate. The Senate companion bill (S. 1573) was previously approved in Senate Committee on a near unanimous vote this November. March of Dimes and its advocates are urging lawmakers to schedule a Senate floor vote on the bill without any changes and will be highlighting the need for swift action during the March for Change Federal Fly-in, which takes place March 5-6, 2024, in Washington, DC.
About March of Dimes
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs, and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 85-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit marchofdimes.org.