Preterm births have financial costs for everyone

Feb 12, 2015

Hamilton County Commissioner and Cradle Cincinnati co-chair Todd Portune (left) with Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young (center) and James Greenberg, MD, Director, Division of Neonatology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

In its efforts to lower Hamilton County's high infant mortality rate, Cradle Cincinnati is adding up the cost of preterm births.

A study by UC's Economics Center finds preterm births cost more than $400 million each year.

County Commissioner and Cradle Cincinnati co-chair Todd Portune says "if you laid a dollar bill side-by-side, $402 million is represented by those dollars, collectively, covering the entire acreage of Lunken Airport."

The study breaks the dollars down three ways:

  • $93.6 million in initial hospital costs.
  • $13.1 million in additional K-12 educational costs.
  • $294.8 million in “lost” income for Hamilton County residents.

Cradle Cincinnati says two of its key goals could help reduce those numbers:

  • Up to $2.6 million per year could be saved by reducing maternal smoking.
  • Up to $7.5 million per year could be saved by reducing short pregnancy spacing (<12 months between pregnancies is highly associated with preterm birth).

Cincinnati Council Member Wendell Young says if women "don't give their bodies time to heal and prepare, the likelihood is that we're going to see more babies who end up in the NICU who don't make it through that first year of life."