Alexander Announces Final Congressional Passage of His Bill to Help Reduce Infant Mortality

Bill Expands Research to Solve Mystery of Premature Births

Posted on December 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced final Congressional passage of the PREEMIE Act, legislation he introduced with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to expand research on premature births, improve education for expectant mothers, and provide better treatment for babies who are born too early. The bill now goes to Bush for his signature. “Premature infants are 14 times more likely to die in their first year than infants who are carried to term,” said Alexander. “Prematurity accounted for 19 percent of all childhood deaths in Tennessee in 2002 and, on average, 214 babies are born preterm in the state each week. We simply do not know why half of these babies are born preterm and this legislation will help solve that mystery. It will also help us reduce the number of premature births and take better care of babies that do arrive too soon.” “This day marks a significant step forward in the fight against preterm birth – the leading killer of newborns,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “Senator Lamar Alexander has been an extraordinary leader whose steadfast determination was key to Congressional approval of the PREEMIE Act. On behalf of millions of March of Dimes volunteers and staff as well as premature babies and their families in every state and community, we express our deepest appreciation.” The PREEMIE Act calls for: · Expansion of prematurity research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). · Studies on the relationship between prematurity and birth defects and developmental disabilities. · A grant program to educate health professionals and the public on signs of preterm labor and to provide support for parents with a premature baby in a neonatal intensive care unit. · A Surgeon General’s conference on preterm birth which will establish an agenda for prematurity related activities in both the public and private sectors.