The cost of prematurity gains attention

The high cost of premature birth has made headlines recently, from controversial business decisions around benefits to a new report from the March of Dimes on how much prematurity costs companies.

The CEO of AOL announced recently he was cutting 401k benefits, citing the high cost of prematurity, upsetting a mother who delivered prematurely that he specifically referenced. The March of Dimes estimates that the average medical cost for a healthy, full-term baby is $5,085 in the first year, while premature and/or low birth weight babies had an average cost of $55,393. The majority of those costs are picked up by employer health plans.

Prematurity is a leading cause of infant mortality. In Florida, 1 in 7 babies is born to soon, according to the March of Dimes. Prematurity was identified in the recently released 2012-2013 Fetal and Infant Mortality Review report as a contributing factor in 48 percent of the cases reviewed.

On March 12th, in conjunction with the March of Dimes annual Advocacy Day in Tallahassee, the state chapter will hold a summit on the Cost of Prematurity, which will engage legislators, Florida top employers and key stakeholders from the healthcare and maternal and child health provider communities. The March of Dimes recommends 14 steps businesses can take to support maternal and newborn health and offers “Healthy Babies, Healthy Business®,” a web-based pregnancy wellness program.