Letters to the editor are an effective way to raise public awareness around the need to fund prematurity and stillbirth research. You are welcome to use or change the following letters and submit them to your local newspaper. Visit Congress.org to locate your local media outlets. Tip: Your letter will be more effective if you include a personal story.
It’s Time We Focused on Preterm Birth Solutions
Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths worldwide. Annually, an estimated 15 million babies are born too early, and more than one million do not survive beyond their first month of life. Babies born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy have increased risks for serious infections, cerebral palsy, and respiratory, vision, hearing and developmental problems. In the U.S., almost one in eight babies is born too soon. And disparities persist: Prematurity rates among blacks and Native Americans are nearly twice as high as those for whites or Asians.
An even larger disparity exists between costs and research; preterm birth is a leading U.S. health care expenditure ($26B), yet preterm birth research ranks 99th and perinatal health research ranks only 52nd in NIH funding.
I urge you to join me in advocating for more research funding for preterm birth. It’s time we paid attention to this growing problem and found solutions that will save lives and money.
Support the Stillbirth Awareness Research Act
A staggering 2.6 million stillbirths occur each year. These pregnancy losses are not considered in most health policies or goals. Most stillbirths occur in low- and middle-income countries. One million stillbirths occur during childbirth, and could be prevented with current interventions that are not readily available in these settings. In addition, nearly half of all maternal deaths recorded worldwide are linked to stillbirths that happen during childbirth.
Stillbirths are not just a low-income country problem. Rates in the U.S. have decreased by only 1% a year for the past 15 years. In high-income countries, late gestation stillbirths (28 weeks and later) are more than 10 times as likely to as occur as deaths from sudden infant death syndrome, but receive less attention in programs and funding for research.
We urgently need better data to help end stillbirth. Please ask your representative to support and co-sponsor Bill 1037, the “Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act of 2011.”
The more information we have, the sooner we will be able to decrease stillbirth rates in our country and around the world.