In a press release today from Leapfrog, new findings in data shows thousands of babies nationwide are being scheduled for delivery earlier than the 39 week recommendation put in place in 2009. But what is most alarming is the risks babies are being put in that society doesn’t know because of the lack of information about the routine procedure we know as induction.
These babies are at increased risk of NICU admission, death, and life-long health problems.
Despite the guidelines put in place regarding elective delivery, the findings from 773 hospitals across the United States show significant differences in scheduled deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. Some hospitals even as high as ten times higher than others!
Experts from the March of Dimes, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The Childbirth Connection caution that the amount of time a baby is in utero is extremely important to the development of organs, including brain development. A minimum of 39 weeks gestation is needed for this process. Delivery before this time frame without a true medical reason is highly discouraged.
The press release also includes:
These three national health plans have been collaborating on an awareness campaign that includes three key messages: the last weeks of pregnancy are important; there are risks for mothers and babies if births are scheduled before 39 weeks for nonmedical reasons; and expectant mothers should investigate the rates of elective deliveries for hospitals in their community.
The new data on early elective deliveries come from Leapfrog’s 2010 annual hospital survey, where hospitals are asked to report the percentage of non-medically indicated births between 37 and 39 weeks gestation that were delivered electively by cesarean section or induction. The Joint Commission has begun monitoring hospital performance on this quality measure as well. In April 2010, the group added the elective deliveries measure to its perinatal core measure set.
Here is to hoping elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation will go from common to rare without valid medical reasons.