JACKSON, Miss.–Babies continue to develop through the last weeks of pregnancy,says the Miss. Dept. of Health, and that agency says it has gotten 80 percent of the hospitals in the state that deliver babies to agree to reduce the number of elective early babies they deliver.
If you’ve ever had a baby, then your obstetrician may have recommended a scheduled C-section or a scheduled induced natural delivery. That is an early elective delivery if the baby would not yet be 39 weeks at the time of delivery.
“There is significant evidence that babies continue to develop through 39 weeks,” said Dept. of Health Parental Consultant, Dr. Charlene Collier. “Those last two weeks do make a difference.”
A report on the national Medicaid website said the national Dept. of Health and Human Services and Medicaid are jointly, along with other agencies, pushing to reduce the number of early elective deliveries and that many doctors schedule the deliveries with no medical reason.
That report said early deliveries sometimes result in medical complications for the mother and child. The March of Dimes and other organizations share the observations and recommendations, according to that report.
The report can be found here: http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Quality-of-Care/Downloads/EED-Brief.pdf
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier said she believes education will make an impact on how decisions are made.
“We need to educate providers and the public. Unless it’s medically necessary, elective deliveries before 39 weeks should be eliminated,” said Currier in a news release. “That one simple decision increases the chances of a healthy baby. Why take chances when it’s not necessary?”
In Mississippi the effort to curb early deliveries is being led by the state Dept. of Health, the March of Dimes Mississippi Chapter, the Mississippi Hospital Association, and the Mississippi Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The March of Dimes’ Banner Program has a banner for hospitals that commit to waiting until 39 weeks of pregnancy for any elective delivery; develop and implement a written hospital policy; and reduce the early elective delivery rate to five percent or lower.
“So far, we have six hospitals that qualify for a banner. This is a huge accomplishment and one that will not only result in healthier babies but also lower medical costs to the state,” said Mississippi March of Dimes State Director Dina Ray.
The nationally recognized Banner Program requires hospitals to demonstrate that they have actually reduced non-medically indicated deliveries to five percent per year or less. The goal for the Dept. of Health is for all Mississippi hospitals to participate in the pledge by the end of the year.