| Friday, January 13, 2017

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(COLUMBUS, OHIO January 13, 2017) – The Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC), in partnership with the Ohio Department of Medicaid, has released a study highlighting a project to improve recognition and treatment of women with the highest risk of early premature birth. Babies born more than two months too soon account for more than half of all infant mortality, so decreasing these earliest births is very important.

OPQC worked for 26 months with prenatal care clinics at the 20 largest maternity hospitals and the five Ohio Medicaid Managed Care Plans to improve care coordination among prenatal care providers, pharmacies, home health care services, and insurers to accelerate preventive treatment for women with a previous premature birth. The project led to a remarkable 20 percent reduction in premature births before 32 weeks of pregnancy for Ohio women insured by Medicaid that is reported in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the journal of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.  

Dr. Jay Iams, Obstetrics Clinical Lead of the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative, said, “Babies born more than eight weeks too soon account for more than half of infant deaths, both nationally and in Ohio, so the decrease we’ve seen in these early births during this project are very encouraging. Every pregnant woman should ask her prenatal caregiver about her risk of premature birth so that, if needed, preventive treatment can begin as soon as possible.”

Finding and treating pregnant women with the highest risk, those with a prior premature birth, has been hampered by gaps in insurance coverage, miscommunication among providers, and the high cost and confusing treatment protocols for progestogens, the medications shown in research studies to decrease early premature birth. Ohio is the first state to attack and remove the many barriers to progesterone treatment, and the results of the first two years of work are encouraging: A significant decrease in all Ohio births before 32 weeks, driven by a 20 percent reductions in repeat early preterm births in women insured by Medicaid, especially in African Americans, in Ohio. 

As part of the National Prematurity Campaign, the March of Dimes has identified eight emerging and established interventions that, based on available evidence, have the potential to reduce the preterm birth rate including increasing the use of progesterone for women with a history of prior preterm birth.  These are part of a broader campaign strategy which includes research, education, community services, advocacy and support.

About the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC)
OPQC is a statewide multi-stakeholder network dedicated to improving perinatal health in Ohio.  Through the collaborative use of improvement science methods, OPQC aims to reduce preterm births and improve perinatal and preterm newborn outcomes in Ohio as quickly as possible.  The OPQC senior leadership team consists of nationally recognized subject matter and quality improvement (QI) experts. OPQC employs a modified version of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Breakthrough Series Model. This method is based on improvement science and continuing education principles and adult learning. It was designed to accelerate translation of evidence into practice by engaging multiple teams, including frontline healthcare and community providers, to learn from each other and from recognized experts to make improvements in a specific topic area.  To learn more visit https://www.opqc.net

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 baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom 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.