ANN ARBOR, MI -- The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) based at the University of Michigan has released its Prematurity Issue Brief that shows pre-term births --- births at less than 37 weeks of gestation --- are the leading cause of health problems in infants and estimated to cost the U.S. more than $26 billion annually. In addition, the report shows that a black infant in Michigan is 70% more likely to be born prematurely than an infant of any other race.
"One in eight babies is born prematurely in the U.S. and Michigan with serious consequences for infant morbidity and mortality," said Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of CHRT.
"Premature infants are at high risk for respiratory problems and mortality and, are among the most significant cost drivers in health care. Yet, risk factors for preterm birth are complex and not fully understood including why black infants are more likely to be born prematurely than infants of other races."
Highlights of the Prematurity Issue Brief, a compilation of national and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) data, include:
"Prematurity is recognized as the single most important area in maternal child health where we need research to improve outcomes," said Timothy R. B. Johnson, M.D., professor and chair, Obstetrics & Gynecology Department, University of MichiganSchool of Medicine. "The fact that there are profound disparities in the U.S. and in Michigan in the incidence and outcomes of prematurity makes attention to this topic even more critical."
The Prematurity Issue Brief is the fifth in a series examining the price of health care in Michigan. While the report identifies important trends, costs and disparities, more research is needed to begin to understand the causes of premature birth.
"We don't know enough about the risk factors and causes of the rise in premature births. We can speculate about the impact of technology and fertility interventions but these births represent only a small percentage of total births. More study is needed so that we can improve outcomes, reduce disparities, and reduce the real and human cost of premature birth," says Udow-Phillips.
The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation sponsors research and public information to promote evidence-based health care delivery, improve population health, and expand access to care. Housed at the University of Michigan, CHRT is a partnership between U-M and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to test the best ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.