Unnecessary Early Births

Medically Unnecessary Early Births Abound, Survey of Hospitals Shows

By Patrick Corcoran on January 28, 2011

Despite the risks inherent in early births, many U.S. hospitals are delivering a huge number of babies ahead of time for no apparent medical reason, a health care advocacy group says.
A new study from Leapfrog Group focused on the rate of early elective births–defined as births via induced labor or a C-section before 39 weeks of pregnancy. It found that about half of the 773 hospitals around the country that agreed to provide data exceeded the group’s target rate last year of 12 percent, a recommended level that Leapfrog is reducing this year to 5 percent.
Many of the hospitals at the high end of the survey reported that roughly 40 percent of their deliveries were early elective births, and a handful reported rates above 60 percent. On the other hand, some hospitals registered early elective birth rates of close to zero.
Such deliveries are linked to higher rates of death and lifelong health problems for the babies. In part that’s because the complete gestation period gives babies’ brains and other organs a chance to fully form before being exposed to life outside the womb.
Furthermore, elective premature births, which are more likely to result in neonatal intensive medical care, cost the U.S. health care system some $1 billion annually, Leapfrog says.
“The information is extremely disturbing,” said Leapfrog Chief Executive Leah Binder, as reported in Bloomberg Business Week. “We are calling on hospitals to put policies in place to prevent early elective deliveries.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported, some hospitals have managed to quickly reduce their rates of early deliveries. The newspaper cited a 2009 study by the Utah-based hospital chain Intermountain Healthcare.
In the study, the chain found that it reduced its rate of early elective deliveries from 28 percent to less than 10 percent in six months after alerting doctors to the health consequences of the early births. After six years, the chain reduced its rate of the early deliveries to less than 3 percent.
Leapfrog has posted hospital by hospital on its website.
Posted in Medical Errors, News & Notes


PHOENIX – Posted: Jun 19, 2012 4:29 PM PDT Updated: Jun 19, 2012 5:54 PM PDT

By Alexis Vance, FOX 10 News – bio
The latest research is out for expectant moms, and it shows there are big benefits to staying pregnant for a full 39 weeks.
Those last weeks of pregnancy, they are the hardest, any mom knows that. But doctors now saying they are also some of the most important.
“The message here is to let labor begin on its own, certainly if your pregnancy is healthy, let it begin on its own,” says Sheila Sjolander, Arizona Dept. of Health Services.
A new initiative is happening at health departments across the country. If you’re having a healthy pregnancy, then keep that baby in the oven 39 weeks.
March of Dimes research shows in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, the size of the baby’s brain almost doubles.
Babies born early are more likely to have learning and behavior problems, feeding problems, and have a higher risk of dying of SIDS.
“Having babies born even just a few weeks early, they are at higher risk of lots of different developmental problems, vision, hearing problems, learning disability and cerebral palsy,” says Sjolander.
Prematurity is the leading cause of infant death in Arizona. Almost 13 percent of babies born in Arizona are premature.
Some things that lead to a premature baby — smoking and obesity. But some moms are scheduling their deliveries.
“What we are trying to avoid here is moms wanting elective inductions or elective c-sections because they have a special date in mind or their families visiting at a certain time.”
The majority of hospitals and doctors in Arizona have pledged to not deliver babies early unless medically necessary.
So what is the goal from all of this? To reduce premature babies born in Arizona by 8-percent over the next 2 years.


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