TIFTON – Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) has been awarded Georgia’s 39 Weeks recognition banner for reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. This will give more babies a healthy start in life, the March of Dimes says.
This quality improvement program, sponsored by the March of Dimes, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Hospital Association, and Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, asks all obstetric hospitals in Georgia to sign a pledge to implement firm policies to reduce early elective deliveries and support ongoing efforts to reduce Georgia’s infant mortality rate. The program encourages hospitals to adopt the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines to not induce labor or perform cesarean sections before 39 weeks gestation without a medical reason.
In order to receive banner recognition, hospitals have to have clear policies in place to prevent early elective deliveries, plus demonstrate data that shows their rate is 5% or less.
“We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who recognized this problem in our community and put in place policies to avoid scheduling elective inductions or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Carol Smith, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services at TRMC.
“The pledge is a testament to the commitment of Georgia’s birthing hospitals and health care providers to promote healthier pregnancies and babies in our state,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “Through the March of Dimes’ banner program, we will continue the important work of reducing prematurity by avoiding early elective deliveries– allowing babies the best shot at life and good health, by allowing their little bodies and organs to fully develop before coming into the world.”
“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 Tift Regional Medical Center 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.
The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs and other organs that occur during the last weeks of pregnancy. More information is available at marchofdimes.com/39weeks.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.
For more information about the birthing center at TRMC, visit www.tiftregional.com or call (229) 353-7601.