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Premature babies 'cost'

29th November 2007

A charity has urged the government to look at how maternity leave is calculated to ease the financial burden on parents of premature babies.

Premature Baby

Baby charity Bliss, which carried out a survey among 169 parents, has calculated that a sick baby costs parents £1,885 in lost earnings and extra spending on childcare, transport and loans.

The first six weeks of maternity pay is paid at a rate of 90% of the mother’s regular salary, before switching to a statutory rate for the next 33 weeks but Bliss says some premature babies remain in hospital much of that time.

As a result, many mothers have used up most of their paid leave by the time their baby comes home, leaving them facing difficult decisions on childcare.

Low income families or those in self employment were particularly hard-hit, though the charity noted many parents reported sympathetic employers.

Bliss chief executive Andy Cole said: “These findings are deeply troubling. Having a premature baby is already a traumatic experience without parents having to worry about how they will manage financially.?

About 10% of births in the UK are premature and babies born as early as 25 weeks have a good chance of survival, though will spend much of their early life in hospital.?

The charity wants the government to reconsider the way maternity and paternity leave is calculated when a baby arrives early.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said the government had just increased statutory maternity pay of £112.75 per week from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

 

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