Costs of Preterm Birth

Premature birth imposes significant financial burdens on families, the healthcare system, and employers. A 2007 Institute of Medicine report estimated the costs of preterm birth in the United States as $26.2 billion annually — averaging $51,000 per premature infant.1

Excess Cost of Preterm Delivery versus Cost of 38-Week Delivery2

Adapted from Gilbert WM, Nesbitt TS, Danielsen B. The cost of prematurity: quantification by gestational age and birth weight. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;102:488-492.
 

Impact on patients and families

Preterm birth can have extensive impact on your patients and their families, both emotionally and financially. In addition to the time spent in the NICU, preterm babies average 16.8 days in the hospital, compared with 2.3 days for full term babies; they also have 50% more doctor's office visits in the first year. In the first 6 months of the premature baby's life, on average the mother will miss almost 6 weeks of work — 2 weeks more than most mothers of full term babies will miss.1


Burden on the U.S. healthcare system3

Prematurity has major costs for the US healthcare system. The estimated annual societal economic cost of preterm birth in the US was $26.2 billion, or more than $51,000 per premature infant. In 2005, the average first-year medical costs, including inpatient and outpatient care, were about 10 times higher for preterm than full-term infants.


Employer costs attributed to preterm birth

Antepartum and neonatal care affect employers’ healthcare costs and workplace productivity. Direct healthcare costs to employers for a preterm/low birthweight baby are 12 times higher than babies without complications.3 Mothers of preterm babies spend an average of 29.1 days on short-term disability, compared with 18.9 days for mothers of full-term babies. Preterm babies spend an average of 16.8 days in the hospital in their first year, compared with 2.3 days for full-term babies.1

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References

  1. Institute of Medicine. Preterm birth: causes, consequences, and prevention. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2007.
  2. Gilbert WM, Nesbitt TS, Danielsen B. The cost of prematurity: quantification by gestational age and birth weight. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;102:488-492.
  3. Behrman RE, et al, eds. Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2007.

ACOG on Standardization

An ACOG Committee Opinion recommends practice standardization to improve outcomes.

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