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FL Makes Dangerous Choices on Early Births

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Akron Beacon Journal/MCT
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Too many Florida doctors and pregnant women are still opting for scheduled early births -- either through elective induction or C-section -- and that’s reflected in the latest data from the Leapfrog Group. That organization encourages changes in the health-care system that improve patient safety and lowers costs.

The nation as a whole is making progress on fighting early scheduled births, according to an article on the study in Kaiser Health News. But a chart of state averages indicates that Florida, along with Texas and a few other states, still hasn’t gotten the message, which is: Babies delivered too soon -- before the 39th week -- aren’t as healthy as they should and could be.

In Florida in 2011, the average rate for early elective deliveries was 13.2 percent; the rate increased to 18.2 percent in 2012, according to a survey by the Leapfrog Group.

A separate chart showing rates of early deliveries at Florida hospitals shows more than half met the goal of under 5 percent or at least made progress in that direction. The study had a small sample; however, it is worth noting that past studies of technological intervention in childbirth -- specifically elective Caesarean sections -- have found that South Florida rates are much higher than those in the state or nation as a whole.

A Health News Florida statistical analysispublished in 2010 showed a distinctively higher rate among hospitals serving the Hispanic communities of South Florida, particularly Miami-Dade. 

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.