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Hospitals In 5 States Clamp Down On Delivering Babies Before 39 Weeks

 

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When hospitals commit to stopping the delivery of babies before 39 weeks gestation unless there is medical cause to do so, they can dramatically lower rates that can put babies at increased risk for serious health problems.

study published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology showed a group of 25 hospitals in five states were able to cut their rates of elective early deliveries from nearly 28 percent to under 5 percent in one year. The March of Dimes, which partly funded the study and assisted the hospitals in setting up new policies and procedures, said the findings show hospitals can overcome cultural and economic barriers to lower their rates.

“We are really moving the goal line for hospitals and doctors who may have thought delivering a baby at 37 weeks was going to be fine,” said Dr. Edward R.B. McCabe, medical director of the March of Dimes.  “We have learned in recent years that babies born at 37 and 38 weeks are at higher risk of death and other problems.”

The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology has recommended for nearly three decades that doctors and hospitals wait until at least 39 weeks to perform elective inductions or Cesarean sections. But rates have remained stubbornly high because either women did not know about the risk or doctors delivered babies early as a convenience to themselves or their patients. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of U.S. babies every year are delivered early without medical cause, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have feeding, breathing and developmental problems than those born at 39 or 40 weeks.

APRIL 8TH, 2013, 5:39 PM BY PHIL GALEWITZ

 

REPOSTED HERE WITH PERMISSION OF KAISER HEALTH NEWS.ORG

 

 

 

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