The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1041–1046 | Cite as

Cost effects of preterm birth: a comparison of health care costs associated with early preterm, late preterm, and full-term birth in the first 3 years after birth

  • Josephine Jacob
  • Moritz Lehne
  • Andrea Mischker
  • Normen Klinger
  • Claudia Zickermann
  • Jochen Walker
Original Paper


Preterm birth is one of the main causes for infant morbidity and mortality. Apart from negative health outcomes, preterm birth also produces significant health care expenditures. This study evaluates the costs associated with preterm birth in different health sectors during the first 3 years of infants’ lives. In a retrospective observational study based on claims data from a German statutory health insurance company, average costs for medication, hospital treatment, ambulatory treatment, and non-medical remedies during the first 3 years after birth were analyzed for early preterm, late preterm, and full-term births. Costs associated with preterm births were generally higher than for full-term births, with the highest costs for the hospital treatment of early preterm births. Cost differences tended to decrease in the second and third year after birth except for ambulatory treatment costs, which decreased for late preterm and full-term births but not for early preterm births. The study shows that preterm birth is associated with increased health care costs, particularly during the first year after birth, indicating that the implementation of adequate programs and policies for preventing preterm birth is not only desirable from a medical but also from a health economic perspective.


Preterm birth Full-term birth Health care costs Gestational age 

JEL Classification


Supplementary material

10198_2016_850_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für angewandte Gesundheitsforschung Berlin (InGef)BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Elsevier Health AnalyticsBerlinGermany
  3. 3.BIG direkt gesundBerlinGermany

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