Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait

November 6, 2013

The March of Dimes presented this banner to Mercy's labor and delivery department

 for their initiative to decrease the number of elective births before 39 weeks.

Have you ever known a mom-to-be who’s S-O-P? S-O-P stands for sick of pregnancy!  As you can imagine, it’s a not-so-technical diagnosis that’s been known to lead to early elective deliveries. While most moms can sympathize with the idea of wanting to deliver a baby a little ahead of time, studies show that elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks can have consequences.

November is National Prematurity Awareness month and the March of Dimes has recognized Mercy Hospital Fort Smith for reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. The organization recently presented Mercy with a banner signifying its dedication to reducing early elective deliveries.

“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,” says Scott Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. “I commend Mercy Hospital Fort Smith 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 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.

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