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Babies' lives at risk

18th December 2006

Too many babies are succumbing to premature birth and its associated problems due to a lack of research funding, a charity claims.

Action Medical Research said babies’ lives are being put at risk because not enough money is being spent on research into the causes of premature birth. The charity claims that just 0.3% of the total research budget (£3.7m) was spent on research into this area during 2004-2005.

However, a Department of Health spokesperson said neonatal research spending actually stood at £6m a year, stressing that the true level of government funding had been underestimated. The government said it was clear that research into premature births was important. Action Medical Research responded by saying that even if the £6m quoted by the Department of Health was correct this was still less than 1% of the total research budget which was at odds with what the public would like. The charity said that a recent survey of over 1,000 people revealed the public wanted to see the government spend a quarter of its research budget on neonatal research.

Around 43,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year, which is a major cause of infant death. Action Medical Research has said it would like to see the government championing babies’ health by doubling its spending on research into premature birth.

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