The March of Dimes recently named Baptist Union County a top hospital for delivery care for its efforts to reduce the number of elective inductions and cesarean section deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.
“We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who recognized this problem in our community and put in place policies to avoid scheduling elective inductions or C-section deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Walter Grace, administrator and CEO of Baptist Union County.
In Mississippi, state health officials recommend keeping the elective induction and cesarean rate before 39 weeks below 5 percent. Baptist Union County is among the best scoring hospitals in the nation, with no reported cesarean-induced labors before 39 weeks in the last two years.
“The last weeks of pregnancy are important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs,” Scott Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes, explained. “I commend Baptist Union County for being a champion for babies and mothers.”
Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year, and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.
Through Strong Start, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes has been getting out the word that “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait.”
The campaign urges women to wait for labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy, rather than scheduling delivery before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full-term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs and other organs that occurs during the last weeks of pregnancy.