Researchers say fewer hospitals, doctors performing early deliveries

As we have mentioned in previous posts on our Joliet medical malpractice law blog, birth injuries can have devastating effects on families, babies and new parents in Will County, even when injuries do not cause permanent damage or long-term impairments.

In an effort to focus on delivering healthier babies and reducing injuries and complications in newborns, several organizations have come together to encourage hospitals and doctors to stop performing early deliveries when early deliveries are not necessary.

The organizations have been asking several hospitals in the U.S., including hospitals in Illinois, to ban early deliveries unless scheduling an early delivery is medically necessary. Researchers have been tracking participating hospitals’ early delivery rates since implementing new policies regarding early deliveries and planned deliveries. Researchers’ findings were recently published in the journalObstetrics and Gynecology.

Although babies are considered full term at 37 weeks, babies are still developing. Babies born between 37 and 39 weeks may not suffer serious medical conditions compared to babies who are born before they are considered full term, but studies have shown that babies who are born between 37 and 39 weeks instead of 40 weeks have a higher risk of contracting an infection. These early-term babies also have a higher risk of having to be hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units after birth.

Despite these risks, it has been common practice in the U.S. to schedule early deliveries for mothers who do not have any medical reasons for delivering their babies early. Together, the March of Dimes, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Maternal Child and Adolescent Division created a toolkit for hospitals and doctors to use for reducing the number of planned early deliveries. And the organizations have been working with 25 hospitals that have agreed to stop performing deliveries before 39 weeks unless performing an early delivery is necessary for a mother or her baby.

Before implementing the ban, 28 percent of the hospitals’ deliveries were early deliveries. Within one year, hospitals reduced early deliveries to 5 percent. By reducing the number of planned early deliveries, the organizations hope to reduce the number of injuries and complications that are suffered by babies every year who are born before 39 weeks.

Source: TIME, “Study reports success in discouraging elective early deliveries,” Bonnie Rochman, April 10, 2013

  • Our firm provides counsel to families who have been harmed by birthing errors. To learn more about protecting your family’s rights and future after being harmed by a birthing error, please visit our Will County birth injury attorney page.

Birth Injuries


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