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Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Date:3/17/2009

heir early birth, Howse said. "They will require more in the way of health care, rehabilitation and special education," she said.

Premature infants also require more time in the hospital, averaging more than 14 days in their first year of life, compared with a little more than two days for healthy, full-term infants. In addition, premature infants average more than 21 outpatient visits, compared with 14 for full-term infants, according to the report.

Combined, infant and maternity costs for a premature infant average $64,713, compared with $15,047 for an infant born without complications, and employer health plans pay more than 90 percent of those costs, according to the report.

In addition, costs for complicated deliveries were also significantly higher than for uncomplicated deliveries, whether the infant was premature or full-term. Maternity care for a complicated delivery costs, on average, $14,667, the report found, compared with $10,652 for an uncomplicated delivery.

To help businesses address the problem of premature delivery, the March of Dimes developed a Web-based pregnancy and newborn health information program called Healthy Babies, Healthy Business. Howse described the program as an easy way for employers to deliver accurate, up-to-date information directly to employees to help reduce the number of premature deliveries and, at the same time, reduce health-care costs.

The March of Dimes report was compiled by Thomson Reuters, using data on inpatient and outpatient medical costs, prescription drugs for infants from birth through the first year and for mothers, including the delivery, prenatal services in the nine months before and the three months after delivery. It was to be presented Tuesday to business leaders at a luncheon in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the March of Dimes and the National Chamber Foundation, a think-tank affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Maureen H
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