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Statement From March of Dimes on Institute of Medicine's Recommendations for Clinical Preventive Services for Women

Washington, District of Columbia — Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes, issued the following statement today:

The March of Dimes commends the Institute of Medicine for its thoughtful recommendations in the report released today, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps.” If adopted by the federal government, these recommendations will have a significant impact in improving the health of women, infants and children.

“The March of Dimes is pleased that the panel affirmed our recommendations that insurers be required to cover, without cost-sharing, prenatal and preconception care, as well as family planning services approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The March of Dimes also commends the panel for recommending coverage of the services of lactation consultants and rental fees associated with breastfeeding equipment.

“The March of Dimes strongly supports the panel’s recommendations for mandatory coverage of routine prenatal care for pregnant women. Prenatal services should include not only physical examination and specific tests but also counseling on nutrition and tobacco cessation. Last week, a comprehensive systematic review of all studies over the past 50 years demonstrated that tobacco use during pregnancy is linked to higher rates of birth defects. Given that up to 14 percent of U.S. women report smoking during pregnancy, these counseling services are critical to healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

“With regard to contraception, numerous studies have shown that pregnancies spaced too closely together present a medical risk factor for preterm birth, the principal cause of newborn death. Appropriately spacing pregnancies — for which access to family planning services is critically important — has been shown to reduce the risk of preterm birth. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that the economic cost of preterm birth totaled at least $26.2 billion in 2005, the latest year for which data was available. The medical component of that total was $18.8 billion – 85 percent of which comprised health services provided to infants.

“The March of Dimes looks forward to supporting the panel’s recommendations as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers their adoption.”

About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit persistats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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