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Alexander, Bennet Bill to Help Prevent Premature Births to Become Law

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 11, 2018 – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation sponsored by Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to reduce infant deaths and improve infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.  

The Senate passed the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act on September 12, 2018. The Senate health committee approved the legislation on June 26, 2018.

“In Tennessee, about 11 percent of babies are born preterm,” said Alexander. “Since it was first signed into law in 2006, this legislation has helped improve our understanding of premature births and support health care professionals caring for these infants. Now that the House has passed this vital legislation, I look forward to President Trump signing it into law soon so we can continue to give more babies the chance at long and healthy lives.”

“Our colleagues in the House made the right decision to pass this important legislation for the roughly 10 percent of babies born premature this year,” Bennet said. “Expanding on the progress already made, reauthorizing this bill will increase research and education on premature births, and promote screenings and treatment for expectant mothers with substance use disorders. Every child deserves a healthy start in life, and this law will help ensure that.”

“We welcome today’s vote on the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act and thank Chairman Alexander and Senator Bennet for their continued leadership in ensuring babies in this country are born strong and healthy,” said March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart. “After a decade of decline, the preterm birth rate has risen the past three years, which is unacceptable for a country with our vast resources. This bill will go a long way in reducing the number of babies that are being born too sick and too soon.”

Senator Alexander introduced the PREEMIE Act—to help reduce infant mortality—in 2003, and it was first signed into law in 2006. The law was reauthorized in 2013 and was also sponsored by Alexander and Bennet.

The legislation that passed the House today reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research and data collection on infants born premature and reauthorizes programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at improving the treatment and outcomes of infants born premature for the next five years. This includes grants to help providers and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat expectant mothers for substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. The bill also includes new provisions to help improve maternal health.