Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.), the senior Republican on the U.S. Senate health committee, on Thursday praised Senate passage of his bill to reduce infant deaths and disabilities by expanding research, education, and intervention activities related to premature birth. The House passed the bill on Tuesday, and it now heads to the president’s desk.
“This bill will help the scientists and researchers working on saving infant lives and preventing births from happening too early. It is an important step to helping reduce the rate of premature births in Tennessee, which is over 12 percent,” Senator Alexander said. “We have made great progress since we first put the spotlight on premature birth, but it remains the leading killer of newborns and a major cause of lasting disabilities.”
The “PREEMIE” bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in February. The legislation, which Senator Alexander introduced with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Co.), reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s research and programs on preterm birth, including improving national data tracking on preterm birth, and conducting studies. The bill also reauthorizes programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration aimed at improving the treatment and outcomes for infants born premature.
The legislation is supported by the March of Dimes Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the Association of State & Territorial Health Officials, and the National Association of County & City Health Officials.
The bill was passed with two additional provisions: the CHIMP Act Amendments to ensure the National Institutes of Health is able to continue caring for the chimpanzees it owns; and a provision to create a National Pediatric Research Network to encourage more support of pediatric research.