House Passes Bipartisan PREEMIE Bill to Help Prevent and Treat Premature Births, Boost Pediatric Care

November 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives this evening passed S. 252, the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, by voice vote. With an average of one in eight children born prematurely, the PREEMIE Act seeks to strengthen the ongoing effort to track, prevent, and treat prematurity to ensure children have a healthly start and a productive future. The bipartisan legislation also provides for the creation of the National Pediatric Research Network to facilitate research to help children with rare and genetic diseases. The House passed similar stand alone legislation, H.R. 225, to create the network in February. Finally, the legislation provides for reauthorization of the Chimp Act of 2000 that helped establish a sanctuary system for chimpanizees that were retired from research.

“Our Nation's premature birth rate is one of the highest in the world, and it is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States,” said committee member Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), who spearheaded the House version of the PREEMIE Act. “This bipartisan legislation will provide vital continued research and education in the national effort to reduce preterm births.  Tonight we advance the great progress made since the 2006 PREEMIE Act by supporting federal research and community involvement to prevent preterm birth. This is how Congress should work - together- on issues that make a lasting difference.” Watch Lance’s floor remarks here.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who cosponsored the National Pediatric Research Network Act component of the bill with Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) said, “The Pediatric Research Network Act will authorize the establishment of a well proven, and evidenced-based approach for addressing pediatric research. It will enable the National Institutes of Health to support multi-institute research to coordinate and streamline this important research. Most importantly it will help to speed cures to the youngest patients.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), who sponsored the original PREEMIE Act that was signed into law in December 2006 commented, “We have made a lot of progress but we can and we still must do better.” Upton also spoke about the Kennedy family in Mattawan, Michigan, whose two young girls Brooke and Brielle have Spinal Muscular Atrophy would stand to benefit from a national pediatric research network. Upton commented, “As this multi-year effort is finally nearing the finish line, we say to the Kennedys and families across the country in similar circumstances, you are not alone in this fight.”

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