Premature Births Cost United States $26 Billion Annually

Premature Births Cost United States $26 Billion Annually

"The U.S. Institute of Medicine has calculated the annual costs associated with preterm birth at more than $26 billion."

So says an article from TIME titled "The Cost of Premature Birth: For One Family, More than $2 Million."

It's full of alarming statistics: Globally, 15 million babies are born prematurely, and one million of them die. Diseases and complications associated with preterm birth are responsible for nearly half of deaths of children under age five. In the United States, it's the leading cause of death for children in their first year.

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Despite the outlandish bill associated with preterm birth, the U.S. has made unimpressive progress in maternity care. Aside from embarrassingly minimal accommodations for maternity and paternity leave, we also have a preterm rate of about 12%, which is on par with countries such as Somalia and Thailand.

(That's also putting aside the appalling infant mortality rate of about 6%, which is one of the highest rates in the developed world.)

According to a report released by March of Dimes, the World Health Organization, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Save the Children, the measures to combat the world's highest rates of preterm birth are comparatively cheap.

Resources such as universally available family planning, basic health care for women and availability of corticosteroids (which requires four doses at $1 each to help babies' lungs mature in the womb) have the potential to eliminate about three-quarters of the one million annual infant deaths.

If you ask us, that's worth it.

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