Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have introduced a bill aimed at lowering the high U.S. stillbirth rate.
The proposed legislation is called the Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act. It is named for Autumn Joy, a New Jersey baby who was stillborn in 2011, according to a statement by Rubio and Booker.
"The bill would provide critical resources to states, local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and other related federal agencies to improve data collection and increase education and awareness of stillbirth in the United States," according to the senators' statement.
Stillbirth affects about 1 in 160 births, with 24,000 babies being stillborn in the U.S. every year, the statement noted.
"The U.S. stillbirth rate is unacceptable and must be addressed," Rubio said. "Losing a child is an unimaginable tragedy and we should use all federal resources available to prevent this devastating loss of life. I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that would employ federal resources to significantly lower the number of stillborn babies in the United States."
And Booker said: "As countries around the world work to reduce stillbirth rates, the United States continues to lag behind, resulting in thousands of families, especially Black families, experiencing the tragic pain of a baby being stillborn. Increased federal resources for critical health initiatives will allow us to prevent a significant number of stillbirths. To that end, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will improve federal, state, and local partnerships on stillbirth data collection and help enhance research, training, and awareness for this critical issue."
The proposed legislation would authorize grants to states to back data collection and reporting of stillbirths. It also calls for the establishment of a Perinatal Pathology Fellowship Program at the National Institutes of Health to fund research.
The World Health Organization, UNICEF and partners said in 2020 there were about 2 million stillbirths every year across the globe. The WHO noted that more than 40% of those stillbirths occur during labor, The Associated Press reported.
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