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Hospitals Fix Early-Birth Problem

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 Close to 50 Florida hospitals have successfully reined in a practice that can cause big problems: Deliberately delivering an infant before the completion of the 39th week of pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes are giving a banner of recognition that says "Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait" to each hospital that meet the criteria, according to a news release from March of Dimes. 

To qualify for the honor, hospitals had to reduce the rate of pre-39-week elective deliveries to less than 5 percent. They did this by reducing early inductions of labor and delaying scheduled Cesarean sections until the appropriate time.

In addition to those who have already received the banners, many others are in the process and hope to qualify by the end of the year, said Esteban Meneses with March of Dimes.

"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,” Tampa OB-GYN Robert Yelverton, state chairman for ACOG, said in a news release.  “We are extremely pleased with the participation from the hospitals across Florida and with the great results this collaborative effort is seeing.”

A pilot program that included six hospitals from Florida was able to reduce the rate of early delivery from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent.

March of Dimes provided this link to the list of hospitals that had met the goal as of July 1.

 

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Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996. She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for four years.Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF in 2012.
Health News Florida is now part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Florida.
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