March of Dimes Partners with Six Florida Hospitals to Address Late Preterm Birth
In an effort to reduce the number of late preterm births, the March of Dimes Florida Chapter announced the launch of a new initiative designed to prevent elective deliveries before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A healthy, full term-pregnancy lasts 39-40 weeks, yet there has been a rise in births scheduled prior to that time through inductions and c-sections that are not medically necessary - a practice once thought to be safe. Research shows that scheduling births, even a few weeks too early, may result in babies having feeding, breathing and learning problems. They are also more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The March of Dimes is engaged in the 39 week initiative to help eliminate non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries prior to full term. Along with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Department of Health, the March of Dimes collaborated to develop a toolkit to guide and support obstetrical providers, clinical staff, hospitals, and health care organizations to develop a successful quality improvement program to eliminate elective deliveries less than 39 weeks and help more babies be born healthy.
The initial focus of this effort in the obstetric arena will be lowering the number of elective deliveries and preterm births in Florida and across the country, including reducing the rate of inductions and c-sections performed prior to 39 weeks gestation. The March of Dimes is working with hospital partners in five states – Florida, New York, California, Illinois and Texas – to implement the new toolkit. Collectively, these states represent nearly 40 percent of all births in the United States, and changes in birth outcomes in these “Big 5” states can significantly alter national performance. In Florida, the March of Dimes will implement the toolkit at Lee Memorial Health System, Ft. Myers; Plantation General Hospital, Plantation; Santa Rosa Medical Center, Milton; South Miami Hospital, Miami; Broward General Medical Center; and St. Joseph Women’s Hospital, Tampa. Click here for the toolkit.
“This collaboration will help establish quality improvement programs that will have a positive impact on moms and babies across the state,” said Dr. John Curran, Associate Vice President for USF Health at the University of South Florida, Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative. “Together we are launching an aggressive education campaign for women and physicians, and have developed educational tools and resources to fight elective, non-medically necessary, early deliveries.”
For the first time in three decades of increases, the nation achieved a decline in the preterm birth rate, with a drop to 12.3 percent. Florida’s preterm birth rate was at 13.8 percent in 2008, and has remained unchanged since 2006. However, the national and state rates are far from 11.4 percent of the Healthy People 2020 goal. March of Dimes has given the United States a grade of “D” and Florida a grade of “F” for the past three years in their Premature Birth Report Card released annually in November, Prematurity Awareness Month. More than half a million babies still are born preterm each year, a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org/florida or nacersano.org. Like us at facebook.com/marchofdimesflorida and follow us on twitter.com/marchofdimesfl.