Over 80 percent of Mississippi delivering hospitals have committed to reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy. Early elective deliveries from 37 through 38 weeks carry a higher risk of death. Nationally, 10-15 percent of babies were delivered at 37-38 weeks without a medical reason, increasing hospital costs and risk of illness or death.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health (M.S.D.H.) Prenatal Consultant Dr. Charlene Collier, “There is significant evidence that babies continue to develop through 39 weeks. Those last two weeks do make a difference.”
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier believes education will make an impact on how decisions are made. “We need to educate providers and the public. Unless it’s medically necessary, elective deliveries before 39 weeks should be eliminated. That one simple decision increases the chances of a healthy baby. Why take chances when it’s not necessary?”
The M.S.D.H., the March of Dimes Mississippi Chapter, the Mississippi Hospital Association, and the Mississippi Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are joining together to urge hospitals to wait a full 39 weeks. Mississippi is one of many states across the country working to reduce early elective deliveries.
The March of Dimes’ Banner Program is recognizing – with a banner – those hospitals that commit to waiting until 39 weeks of pregnancy for any elective delivery; develop and implement a written hospital policy; and reduce the early elective delivery rate to five percent or lower.
“So far, we have six hospitals that qualify for a banner. This is a huge accomplishment and one that will not only result in healthier babies but also lower medical costs to the state,” said Mississippi March of Dimes State Director Dina Ray.
The nationally recognized Banner Program requires hospitals to demonstrate that they have actually reduced non-medically indicated deliveries to 5 percent per year or less. The goal is for all Mississippi hospitals to participate in the pledge by the end of the year.
A complete list of the 36 pledging delivery hospitals participating in the program – those working towards being awarded a banner, and those who have qualified for a banner – is available at HealthyMS.com.
Follow M.S.D.H. by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.