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Early Inductions Being Banned or Restricted in Some Hospitals

The growth of the baby's brain during the last month is hugely significant. Image courtesy of March of Dimes.

These restrictions would include elective C-sections in the same time frame – anything prior to 39 weeks. There are large initiatives taking place nation-wide to ban, or heavily restrict, early elective C-Sections and early inductions prior to week 39 gestational age. The latest is an unusual move by Portland area hospitals.

The March of Dimes has long been pointing out what ACOG has been saying for years – early inductions come with many hidden dangers and risks that aren’t always clearly seen or understood by tired-of-being-pregnant moms. There are tremendous benefits to waiting until week 39 at the very minimum before a non-medically-necessary induction or C-Section take place.

In Portland, Oregon the area hospitals have joined together to create new initiatives which will do just that – require physicians to wait until the 39th week before offering elective or scheduled C-sections and “convenience inductions” as they are sometimes called. According to the Portland Tribune’s article on the subject, the 17 area hospitals have all agreed to the terms. Any induction taking place prior to week 39 of a woman’s pregnancy will require approval by a hospital arbitrator.

…new research has shown that there is significant brain development going on right through 38 weeks. Babies born before 39 weeks of pregnancy are two to three times more likely to be admitted to intensive care as well as have trouble breathing, according to recent studies.

When similar policies have been enacted in other hospitals as many 40-50% of all early inductions did not meet the criteria for “medically necessary.” The savings – in lives and health care costs – have been huge though.

For example Intermountain Health, a group of Utah area hospitals created similar guidelines for their patients care and the results were startling. The number of infants needing NICU care dropped significantly, the annual savings in health care cost for patients has been greatly decreased, and the number of surgical births (failed inductions are a leading cause of C-Sections!) has been greatly decrease – again saving lives and money.

By instituting a ban on inductions before the 39th week, Intermountain kept an estimated 500 newborns from having to use ventilators after birth and saved at least $1 million in health care costs in one year, according to hospital officials.

Fewer inductions also resulted in fewer overall C-sections, according to Intermountain. And that resulted in a savings of over $45 million.

Given the better health for babies, the delicate brain development that takes place in the last few days of pregnancy, and the savings in costs and NICU resources, would you support similar guidelines in your area hospitals?

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