Medical costs of preterm baby 'could cover 12 full-term newborns'

The medical costs associated with a premature baby during the first year of its life could care for nearly a dozen healthy, full-term babies, it has been claimed.

Statistics from the March of Dimes, a US pregnancy and baby care charity, highlight that the medical cost of raising a full-term newborn until they turn one-year-old was $4,551 (£3,124) in 2007, compared to almost $50,000 for premature and low birth weight babies.

It was found that more than $46,000 of this sum was borne by the nation's health plan.

"Preventing preterm birth is one way we can begin to rein in our nation's skyrocketing health care costs and help businesses protect their bottom line," said Dr Jennifer L Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The best prevention of prematurity is good maternity care."

Data released this month by the National Center for Health Statistics highlighted that the preterm birth rate in the US declined in 2007 for babies born at between 34 and 36 weeks and among babies born to African American and white mothers.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Howse said they are encouraging and that this success needs to be built upon.