Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks. With preterm birth increasing at startling rates across the country, impacting 383,000 babies each year, we cannot sit complacently. We must act to better understand the cause of preterm birth, what is causing this shocking increase, and what we can do to prevent preterm birth to allow our moms and babies the best start at life possible.
Premature babies may have more health problems or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born on time. Some of these babies also face long-term health effects, like problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing, or vision.
In 2006, Congress passed the original PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450), expanding research and developed a public-private agenda aimed at reducing preterm birth and its consequences.
In 2018, Congress reauthorized a 5-year extension, called the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act (S. 3029/H.R. 6085), renewing the U.S.’s commitment to address preterm birth through federal research, promoting known interventions, and promoting community initiatives.
On December 31st, 2023, research and programs made possible by the PREEMIE Act will be put at risk when authorization for these programs ends. Supporting reauthorization will ensure that these lifesaving programs continue.
The PREEMIE Act was introduced on May 12, 2023 by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. John Boozman (R-AZ), Rep. Burgess (R-TX), Rep. Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Rep. Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-CA), and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE).
This imperative legislation is a top priority for March of Dimes and numerous organizations involved in maternal and infant health.
Key bill provisions
Key provisions of the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act included:
Renewal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s research and programs on preterm birth, including improved tracking of national data.
Reauthorization of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s activities aimed at promoting healthy pregnancies and preventing preterm birth.
Provides for a new study on the costs, impact of social factors, gaps in public health programs that lead to prematurity, and calls for HHS to make recommendations to prevent preterm birth.
Establishment of an entity in the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate all federal activities and programs related to preterm birth, infant mortality, and other adverse birth outcomes