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Hospitals Fix Early-Birth Problem

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

 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 providedthis link to the listof hospitals that had met the goal as of July 1.

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.