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Monday 24th October 2016

Premature babies cost UK £1bn a year

2nd February 2009

Looking after babies who are born prematurely costs the UK nearly £1 billion a year, according to new research.

Premature Baby

A study by the Oxford Centre for Health Economics, funded by the baby charity Tommy's, looked at how much premature children born in 2006 would cost until the age of 18.

The costs included schooling, health care and the expense incurred by their parents taking more days off from their jobs.

Jane Brewin, Tommy's chief executive said: "Given that the UK rate of premature birth is rising, this mammoth cost is set to grow even larger."

The researchers said that if more money was provided to investigate how to prevent premature babies being born early it could mean a saving of £269 million annually.

Ms Brewin said that premature babies faced "serious" problems later in life such as brain haemorrhages, digestive difficulties, eye disorders and chronic lung disease.

The study allocated how probable the need was for "neonatal care, mild disability, moderate disability, severe disability and death" and calculated the cost.

They found that around two-thirds of the overall cost was for babies born between 33-36 weeks and a premature child would cost 1.5 times more than a normal baby. Nearly all additional costs were incurred from time in hospital after the premature babies were born.

Professor Peter Brocklehurst, director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, said: "The extent to which the costs associated with preterm birth are an economic burden has previously received little attention.

"We propose that more effort is focused on preventing preterm birth."


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