ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Go To Work But Skip The Car
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Add your Article

Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs

TUESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- One year of medical costs paid by a company's health insurance for a premature baby could cover the medical costs of almost a dozen healthy, full-term babies, a new report from the March of Dimes claims.

Medical costs for healthy, full-term babies during their first year average $4,551, of which about $3,800 is covered by employer heath insurance. But for preterm babies, the cost is almost $50,000, with about $46,000 paid by employer insurance.

"The report is really aimed at the business community," Jennifer L. Howse, the March of Dimes president, said. "The purpose of the report is to underscore the very serious financial consequences of the rising problem of premature birth in our country."

By highlighting the costs of premature birth, the March of Dimes is hoping to get businesses to take steps to make sure employees and their families get good prenatal care, Howse said. "Being an employer who provides employee health insurance, you are a stakeholder in prevention," she said. "Good prevention equals a healthier workforce."

Howse noted that the costs of preterm birth can be substantial and continue well beyond the first year of life. These can include cerebral palsy, mental retardation or neurological impairment. "The more severe the disabilities and problems experienced by the newborn, the higher the costs will be," she said.

In the United States, preterm births cost $26 billion annually, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. About 543,000 preterm infants are born each year, a number that has increased more than 36 percent since the 1980s.

Premature birth is a leading cause of newborn death, and infants who do survive face the risk of lifelong health conditions. In fact, 25 percent of infants born prematurely will have lifetime problems resulting from their 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 Hack, from the Department of Pediatrics at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said that the costs covered in the report are only a small part of the costs associated with preterm delivery.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg," Hack said. "This might be what it is costing the employers for the first year, but these kids have continuing health problems and, later on, they have educational problems."

And prenatal care, Hack noted, might not be enough to prevent preterm births. "It's very complex," she said. "There are a lot of factors that contribute to preterm births."

But to help pregnant women, the March of Dimes suggests that companies:

* Provide information on preconception, prenatal, postnatal and infant care.
* Offer a smoke-, drug- and toxin-free working environment.
* Encourage physical activity.
* Make available information about healthy pregnancy and childbirth and prenatal care.
* Allow time off for regular prenatal and infant care.
* Provide an area for women to pump and store breast milk.
* Provide comprehensive health insurance.
* Offer flextime and the option to work from home.
* Provide job protection beyond the current law, including for adoption and foster care placement.

-Steven Reinberg

More information

The March of Dimes has more on premature babies.



SOURCES: Jennifer L. Howse, Ph.D., president, March of Dimes, White Plains, N.Y.; Maureen Hack, M.D., Ch.B., department of pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland; March 17, 2009, Healthy Babies, Healthy Business: Cutting Costs and Reducing Premature Birth Rates, March of Dimes Foundation

Last Updated: March 17, 2009

Copyright 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

More articles at www.eholistic.com