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Florida hospitals working toward 39-week gestation for babies

Nearly 50 Florida hospitals have received recognition from the March of Dimes and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as part of the “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” program. According to a March of Dimes spokesperson, many other Florida medical facilities are working to qualify for the honor by year-end. The program was designed to decrease the practice of delivering a baby before its 39th week of gestation.

Further, six Florida hospitals that participated in a pilot program to decrease intentional early deliveries decreased their rates from almost 28 percent to less than 5 percent. That under 5 percent mark is the requirement for the “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” honor also. The hospitals that reached the goal did so by delaying scheduled Cesarean sections and decreasing early-induced labors.

Why the movement to prevent births prior to 39 weeks? According to a Florida doctor who is also the state chairman of the ACOG, “Studies have shown that deliveries that are scheduled for non-medical reasons may increase harm to infants, increase health care costs, and worsen medical outcomes.”

A doctor who is editor-in-chief of “Space Coast Daily” notes that while 37 weeks of gestation is considered full term, there is still a “significant amount of development and growth in several key organ systems” for a fetus between 37 and 39 weeks. He also says that Non-Medically Indicated Deliveries are linked to newborn deaths.

Further, the doctor points out that NMIDs are costly in many ways. They increase medical malpractice suits. They also increase the cost to Medicaid, which pays for a large percentage of Florida births, and result in more admissions to neonatal intensive care units.

The harm done to a child during pregnancy and childbirth can have lifelong ramifications. Families have a right to seek compensation to help cover expensive and possibly long-term care if a birth injury or developmental issue was the result of medical malpractice.

Source: Source: Space Coast News, "Florida Hospitals Fix Early-Birth Problem," No Author Given, July 3, 2014

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