State leaving premature parents to pick up costs

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A survey of families with prematurely born children has revealed a huge financial burden which parents must carry themselves

Neu-Isenburg, Germany -- Parents of premature infants have to pay, on average, more than 6,600 euros for therapy until the child's fifth birthday, according to a survey cited by the Aerzte Zeitung, published in the German town of Neu-Isenburg.

The survey, in which 588 parents of premature infants in German- speaking areas of Europe participated, was conducted by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) in Karlsfeld, near Munich.

It found that therapy costs were the parents' biggest financial burden.

The EFCNI noted that premature infants often suffered from general developmental disorders and neurological problems such as poor vision. Consequently, they frequently require physiotherapy, ergotherapy or speech therapy, the costs of which are not always picked up by the government.

In addition, there are expenses for medicine, follow-up examinations and health aids such as vaporisers.

Although Germany's healthcare system provides free emergency care and help for the poorest, it does not have the same level of state protection as in Britain's National Health Service, instead often relying on private health insurance to cover costs. DPA

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