Preterm Birth

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New Federal Plan to Reduce Early Elective Births

Delivering early–for no medical cause–can harm babies.

By Emily Bazar, Center for Health Reporting

(Nathan LeClair: Flickr)

(Nathan LeClair: Flickr)

Now the feds are jumping in.

This morning, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a national campaign to reduce elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks of pregnancy, saying the effort will improve care and save millions.

Under the “Strong Start” initiative, the government will work with hospitals across the country that have joined the Partnership for Patients, a voluntary effort to reduce preventable injuries and complications.

It also will partner with organizations such as the March of Dimes and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which have taken strong stands against early elective births.

… up to 10 percent of all deliveries are scheduled during weeks 37 and 38 without a medical reason. 

The federal government now joins a fast-growing movement to cut early elective births. As I wrote last week, nearly 100 hospitals across California have adopted policies to discourage or prohibit doctors from scheduling deliveries – either by inducing labor or performing cesarean sections – between weeks 37 and 39 of pregnancy without a medical reason.

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