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  • Premature Birth Bill Reauthorization Advances in House

    A critical bill that would reauthorize education and research to prevent premature births and the health problems they can cause has advanced in the House.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously advanced the bipartisan Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who Deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act of 2023 out of its Health Subcommittee today.

    Although the legislation does not directly focus on vision or eye care, premature birth can have a significant effect on ocular development, including conditions such as retinopathy of prematurity, refractive error, strabismus, cerebral visual impairment, reduced contrast sensitivity, visual field defects, decreased visual acuity and others.

    The Academy has supported the legislation as a key to providing education and research to prevent the health problems posed by premature birth. The last time Congress reauthorized a five-year extension of the act was in 2018, and it is now scheduled to end Dec. 31. The subcommittee’s action on this critical legislation is a positive step for full reauthorization.

    Preterm births and related health risks are a top priority for physicians. The preterm birth rate in the United States has steadily increased over the past few years, reaching 10.5% in 2021. This represents a significant increase from 10.1% in just one year and the highest recorded rate since 2007, or 383,082 preterm births annually.

    The Academy is pleased to see this legislation overcome this first hurdle and will continue to advocate for passage of this important bill aimed at reducing preterm birth and its consequences. The full Energy and Commerce Committee must consider the bill before it can advance to the House floor for a vote.