End Early Elective Deliveries, Say 7 Major Health Organizations

Changes in Hospital Policy Encouraged

White Plains, New York | Sunday, May 5, 2013

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Seven national health organizations, representing the major players in the delivery of maternity care in the United States, are calling upon the 3,000-plus maternity care hospitals nationwide to adopt new policies to reduce elective early deliveries and help more babies get a healthy start in life.

A letter co-signed by the March of Dimes and six professional organizations on May 1 pledged to help facilitate a “landmark change” in the way hospitals provide maternity care. The groups urged all hospitals to put in place a documented plan to reduce or eliminate early elective deliveries and to voluntarily report their delivery data. The other co-signers to the letter were the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).

“Preventing early elective deliveries is now becoming a best practice in hospitals around the country,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “Research has documented the benefits, and health professionals have translated this from a concept into a true national movement. We hope that every hospital that delivers babies will join the effort.”

The March of Dimes worked with 25 hospitals in 5 states -- California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas -- to implement quality improvement strategies that successfully reduced the rate of early elective deliveries by 83 percent in one year, according to a study published in the May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Howse notes that the final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing. Reducing medically unnecessary early deliveries has been one way the March of Dimes has been working to prevent preterm births in the U.S. The March of Dimes also has been teaming up with its Prematurity Campaign partners, the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services (HHS), and the six physician, nurse, and hospital organizations to raise public awareness about the importance of a full-term pregnancy.

Early elective deliveries, or medically unnecessary deliveries before a full 39 weeks of gestation, put the baby at greater risk of health problems or even death, and cost more than a healthy full-term birth.

In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. About 4 million babies are born each year in the U.S., and the March of Dimes helps each one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 84-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.