Kiggans Spearheads Bipartisan Effort to Reduce Premature Births

May 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) announced that she has joined Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-16), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Robin Kelly (IL-02), and Michael Burgess (TX-26) in introducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve pregnancy outcomes and infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.

The Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act of 2023 will reauthorize critical federal research, education, and intervention activities to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality. The legislation will also authorize a study to better understand the factors that lead to preterm birth and identify effective prevention and treatment options. The preterm birth rate in the U.S. has increased by 4% since 2020, with over 383,000 infants born prematurely in 2021. Premature birth can lead to significant developmental delays and chronic health problems for infants. 

“The PREEMIE Act has facilitated invaluable, life-saving research benefitting hundreds of thousands of expectant mothers and prematurely born infants,” said Congresswoman Kiggans, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “As a primary care provider, I’m thankful for the positive strides that have been made in recent years to understand and prevent premature births. But there’s still work to be done. In 2021, one in ten babies in the U.S. was born preterm. I’m proud to introduce this bill to ensure federal research on this issue continues!”

“Every year, ten percent of babies are born prematurely putting them and their mothers at an increased risk of complicated health problems. 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. I look forward to swiftly reauthorizing this important program to ensure that every child has a healthy start to life,” said Eshoo

“Babies born prematurely shouldn’t be at a disadvantage because of a lack of resources. Every single baby born deserves a healthy start,” said Congresswoman Miller-Meeks. “I’m proud to lead this effort to support research that will determine what causes preterm births and what can be done to prevent them.”

“I am proud to help lead the effort to reauthorize the PREEMIE Act. Premature birth and its effects is still a leading cause of infant health challenges and even death, creating needless emotional and financial costs for too many American families. We must continue to empower agencies like the CDC to conduct research and empower local communities to implement best practices that prevent preterm birth and help our babies to live happy, healthy lives,” said Congresswoman Kelly.

“I served as an OBGYN in North Texas for nearly 30 years, so I know firsthand the importance of giving every baby a healthy start in life. That’s why I strongly support the PREEMIE ACT, which provides critical support to make that a reality,” said Congressman Burgess. “By renewing the CDC’s research and programs on preterm birth, improving national data tracking, promoting healthy pregnancies, and establishing a coordinated effort across federal agencies, we can take meaningful steps to prevent preterm birth and reduce infant mortality. This legislation is a crucial investment in the health of our nation’s children, and we urge our colleagues to act swiftly to ensure its renewal.”

“Every baby deserves to receive the best possible start, but for too many in the U.S. that isn’t the case. Our 2022 Report Card shows that the U.S. preterm birth rate increased to 10.5% — the highest recorded rate since 2007. That’s more than 383,000 babies who are born too sick and too soon each year,” said Stacey Y. Brayboy, Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Government Affairs at March of Dimes. “Preterm birth and its complications are a leading cause of infant death in the U.S. and globally. Now more than ever we need to increase our investment in research and community support to families affected by preterm birth. The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act is the only federal law dedicated to preventing and treating preterm birth and is a critical step towards reversing this increasingly devastating trend and ensuring babies have the best possible start in life.”

“Approximately 1 in 10 infants in the United States is born prematurely despite decades of research and clinical advancement,”said Iffath A. Hoskins, MD, FACOG, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “ACOG strongly endorses the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act to continue critical work towards preventing preterm birth and address the devastating effects on infants, patients, and families. Improvements in data collection and investment in new research will improve clinical guidance and help develop effective strategies that will advance health equity and eliminate adverse birth outcomes. We thank Senators Bennet and Boozman and Representatives Eshoo, Burgess, Miller-Meeks and Kelly for their commitment to this important issue.”

The Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Actwas first signed into law in 2006 to help reduce infant mortality. Bennet sponsored reauthorizations of the law in 2013 and in 2018

The legislation reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s research and data collection on infants born premature and programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration aimed at improving the treatment and outcome of infants born premature. This includes grants to help doctors and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat pregnant people for depression, and substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. These programs are set to expire on September 30, 2023.

The bill text is available HERE. A summary of the bill is available HERE.


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