Preemie Matters - June 2010

In this issue of Preemie Matters: Public Health Leaders Urge Congress to Reauthorize PREEMIE Act  •  Ob/Gyn & Mom of Preemies Shares Her Story  •  First-Ever National Standards for Newborn Screening  •  Rethinking the Definition of a "Term" Pregnancy  •  Summer Webinar: The Professional's Role in Perinatal Bereavement

Public Health Leaders Urge Congress to Reauthorize PREEMIE Act

In May, public health leaders from CDC, NIH, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), March of Dimes Foundation and others addressed America's prematurity crisis before a Congressional subcommittee on health, calling for Congress to reauthorize the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450). The PREEMIE Act, signed into law in December 2006, authorizes expanded federal research related to preterm labor and care for preterm infants; public and provider education and support services; the establishment of an interagency council on prematurity to report to the HHS secretary; and the establishment of the Surgeon General's Conference on Preterm Birth, which led to the creation of prematurity-related agendas for both public and private sectors.

Ob/Gyn & Mom of Preemies Shares Her Story

Six years ago, ob/gyn Jennifer Gunter lived the devastating experience of preterm labor as a patient, rather than as the treating physician. And it changed her life and her work. Pregnant with triplets, Dr. Gunter lost her son Aidan after he was born at 22 1/2 weeks. She then delivered sons Oliver and Victor at 26 weeks, followed by the months and years of medical and financial stressors common to many parents of preemies. Today, Jennifer Gunter shares tips and strategies - as well as stories about her sons - on her blog and website, She also has used her unique perspective as both a physician and a veteran preemie parent to author a new book, The Preemie Primer: A Complete Guide for Parents of Premature Babies.

First-Ever National Standards for Newborn Screening

In late May, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced the first-ever national standards for newborn screening, recommended by the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. These standards will guide states in ensuring that their newborn screening programs are using the latest practices and technologies, so that all babies across the country receive the same standard of care in detecting potentially life-threatening but treatable diseases. All 50 states and the District of Columbia currently require that every baby be screened for 26 or more of the now 30 disorders on the uniform panel - but public health advocates continue to urge all states to screen for all 30 disorders. A national screening map is available from the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center.

Rethinking the Definition of a "Term" Pregnancy

A commentary published in the July 2010 edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology argues for refining the definition of a "term" pregnancy. Citing the "growing body of evidence suggesting that significant differences exist in the outcomes of infants delivered within this five-week interval [of 37 to 41 weeks]," the authors call for the use of a subcategory of term births called "early term," from 37 0/7 to 38 6/7 weeks of gestation. They note the growing body of data that births during this "early term" period have increased mortality and neonatal morbidity, compared with neonates born later at term. How will the categorization matter? The authors suggest that the broadest definition of "term" affects clinical decision-making on the management of pregnancy complications, as well as the timing of both elective and indicated deliveries.

Summer Webinar: The Professional's Role in Perinatal Bereavement

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) will host a live continuing education webinar, "The Professional's Role in Perinatal Bereavement," August 26, 2010 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. EDT. The program will cover evidence-based support for nursing assessment of parent needs and interventions for families. Participants will gain knowledge about he psychological and developmental impact of perinatal loss - and how to be prepared to offer crucial care and support. Details and registration are available on the AWHONN site.


Information is reported as provided and does not necessarily represent the view of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. A complete copy of HMHB's disclaimer is available on our website.