November 16, 2013
Richmond, Va. (Nov. 17, 2013) — HCA Virginia is raising awareness this weekend of World Prematurity Day and has been working with the March of Dimes to reduce the number of elective inductions and cesearean 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 caesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Judy Matthews, director of Women’s and Children’s Services, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.
HCA Virginia implemented a toolkit called “Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries before 39 Weeks Gestational Age” to guide changes in early term delivery practices. The toolkit was developed in partnership with the March of Dimes, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Maternal Child and Adolescent Division within the California Department of Public Health. To downloaded the toolkit, visit prematurityprevention.org.
“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,” said Scott Berns, M.D., senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. “I commend HCA Virginia for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”
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, learning disabilities and others. 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, along with national partners, 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 occur during the last weeks of pregnancy.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more information, visit http://www.marchofdimes.com/39weeks.