Posts Tagged ‘39 weeks’

Happy Mother’s Day

Friday, May 10th, 2013

generationsIn honor of Mother’s Day, we’d like to offer expectant moms one more tool to help promote a healthy pregnancy. Here’s a quick introduction to elective deliveries. Find out why the latest research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and  information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes all suggest that women wait until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy to deliver unless medically necessary.

What is the safest point in my pregnancy for my baby to be born?

The baby’s brain, liver, and lungs continue important development in the womb until 39 weeks. Unless health risks to the mother or baby require earlier delivery, it is best to wait until at least 39 weeks to deliver and, if possible, to let labor begin on its own. This extra time improves outcomes for mother and baby.

What to ask your health provider before you decide to deliver before 39 weeks of pregnancy:
• Are there any medical indications that suggest I should induce labor early?
• What are the potential complications of elective early delivery for my baby?
• What are the potential complications for my own health?
• How do you tell when my body is ready for labor?
• How might inducing labor affect my future pregnancies?

Just a couple weeks can make a big difference for your health and the health of your baby. As you approach the last few months of your pregnancy (or if you’re already there), keep the questions above in mind as you talk to your doctor or midwife about your delivery options. Write them down. Print them out. And watch this video from the NIH on why waiting just a few extra weeks to deliver can be critical for you and your baby.

Study shows we can reduce unnecessary early deliveries

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

A study published today in Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that hospital-based quality improvement programs across many states can be remarkably effective at reducing early elective deliveries of babies.

The rate of elective early term deliveries (i.e., inductions of labor and Cesarean sections without a medical reason) in a group of 25 participating hospitals fell significantly from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent during the one-year project period, an 83 percent decline.

The March of Dimes, which partly funded the study, calls the findings good news, because babies delivered before full-term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.

“This quality improvement program demonstrates that we can create a change in medical culture to prevent unneeded early deliveries and give many more babies a healthy start in life,” says Bryan T. Oshiro, MD, of Loma Linda University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

“Reducing unnecessary early deliveries to less than five percent in these hospitals means that more babies stayed in the womb longer, which is so important for their growth and development,” says Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, medical director of the March of Dimes. “This project saw a decrease in the proportion of babies born at 37 and 38 weeks and a corresponding increase in the 39-41 week range during the one-year period studied. Additional studies, perhaps over a longer period of time, could clarify whether such quality improvement programs can also bring down a hospital’s overall preterm birth rate.”

This was the first project of a collaborative with perinatal quality improvement advocates from state health departments, academic health centers, public and private hospitals, and March of Dimes chapters from the five most populous states in the country: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. These five states account for an estimated 38 percent of all births in the United States.

The March of Dimes urges hospitals, health care providers, and patients to follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines that if a pregnancy is healthy, to wait for labor to begin on its own. The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing.

“A Multistate Quality Improvement Program to Decrease Elective Deliveries Before 39 Weeks,” by Dr. Oshiro and others, appears in the April 8 online edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Vol. 121, No. 5, May 2013.

US gets a “C” on premature birth report card

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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The U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7 percent, the lowest in a decade, giving thousands more babies a healthy start in life and saving billions in health and social costs.

Four states – Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine earned an “A” on the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card as their preterm birth rates met the March of Dimes 9.6 percent goal. Although, the US preterm birth rate improved, it again earned a “C” on the Report Card.

The US preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8, after rising steadily for more than two decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It dropped to 11.7 in 2011, the lowest in a decade.

All this improvement means not just healthier babies, but also a potential savings of roughly $3 billion in health care and economic costs to society, said Dr. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. About 64,000 fewer babies were born preterm in 2010, when compared to 2006, the peak year.

Dr. Howse attributed the improved rates to an expansion of successful programs and interventions, including actions by state health officials in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who formally set goals to lower their preterm birth rates 8 percent by 2014 from their 2009 rate, based on a challenge issued in 2011 by the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations. On the 2012 Report Card, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico saw improvement in their preterm birth rates between 2009 and 2011, earning 16 of them better grades.

The largest declines in premature birth occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the improvement was across the board. Every racial and ethnic group benefitted, and there were fewer preterm babies born at all stages of pregnancy.

The March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign urges health care providers and patients not to schedule a delivery until at least 39 completed weeks of pregnancy, unless there is a medical reason to do so. Many important organs, including the baby’s brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Strong Start” initiative is partnering with the March of Dimes to raise awareness about the importance of a full term pregnancy through paid advertising support and collaboration with hospitals to improve perinatal care.

The March of Dimes Report Card compares each state’s preterm birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of lowering the rate to 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020. The Report Card information for the U.S. and states is available at this link.

The last weeks of pregnancy count

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

pregnancy-sunIt isn’t easy being pregnant during the dog days of summer! My sister-in-law and I are both pregnant during this heat wave. But while I’ve still got a ways to go with my pregnancy, she’s coming down the home stretch and is due in a couple of weeks. But as uncomfortable as she may be, she knows just how important these last weeks of pregnancy are for her baby.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics highlights this very issue. A healthy pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. But  researchers found that children born even just a couple of weeks early (weeks 37 and 38) ended up having lower reading and math scores 8 years later than children who were born closer to 40 weeks.

Even though your provider may say you’re full term at week 37, those last few weeks leading up to week 40 are still very important. For example, your baby’s brain, lungs and liver are still developing. In fact, a baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs just 2/3 of what his brain weighs at 39 to 40 weeks.

If your pregnancy is healthy, hang in there during those last weeks because it’s really best for your baby that you wait for labor to begin on its own. But if you’re thinking about scheduling your baby’s birth (like getting induced or requesting a c-section), wait until you’re at least 39 weeks. The last weeks of pregnancy really count!

U.S. infant mortality rate down

Friday, May 18th, 2012

graph-going-downMore than 1,000 fewer babies died before celebrating their first birthday between 2007 and 2008, and many of them had the benefit of a full-term pregnancy, according to data just released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The United States infant mortality rate declined 2 percent from 2007 to 2008. The rate dropped to 6.61 from 6.75 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The NCHS report found that all of this decrease in the infant mortality rate can be accounted for by a decrease in preterm births. While infant mortality rates were relatively unchanged between 2000 and 2005, this recent improvement represents a 4 percent decline in infant mortality since 2000 and a 13 percent decline since 1995.

“This data conclusively demonstrates that preventing premature birth saves lives,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse president of the March of Dimes. “But 28,000 babies still did not live to see their first birthday. No parent should ever have to experience the pain of losing a child from prematurity, or from any other cause.”

The U.S. preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8 percent. It has dropped for four consecutive years to just less than 12 percent in 2010. Much of this improvement can be attributed to a decline in the rate of infants born just a few weeks early, which may be linked to better hospital practices that discourage elective early deliveries that can result in premature births.

The new NCHS statistics show that the earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of death, but Dr. Howse says it’s important to note that even babies born just a few weeks early — between 34 and 36 weeks gestation — have a death rate three times as high as babies born at full term. In 2008, nearly two-thirds of all infant deaths occurred in the first month of life, and two-thirds of all infant deaths were preterm babies, according to the NCHS.

The March of Dimes has set a goal of lowering the national preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent of all births by 2020. This goal can be achieved by a combination of activities, including: giving all women of childbearing age access to healthcare coverage and preconception and prenatal care; fully implementing proven interventions to reduce the risk of an early birth, such as not smoking during pregnancy, progesterone treatments for women as appropriate, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments, avoiding elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary; and by funding new research into prevention of preterm birth.

Waiting for 39 weeks

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

In June the March of Dimes launched its “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” campaign that stresses the importance of carrying your baby to full term.  Since the launch, we have received a few comments from some women who were unable to make it to 39 weeks and feel that our message is suggesting that somehow they failed. Not so at all!

The March of Dimes maintains that if a pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks, or until labor begins on its own. The March of Dimes tells women that if you’re healthy and have a choice and you’re planning to schedule your baby’s birth, wait until at least 39 weeks because your baby’s brain, lungs and other organs will continue to develop. The fact of the matter, however, is that you might not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby earlier.  We firmly believe that the health of each mom and baby should always be of primary concern.

Today, Parents Magazine is celebrating its 85th year providing helpful information to parents. We salute their good work and thank them for their support in helping us spread the news about the importance of waiting for 39 weeks.  Full term pregnancies help all babies have a healthy start.

At least 39 weeks

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Actress Julie Bowen encourages pregnant women ( if they are experiencing a healthy pregnancy) to strive for at least 39 weeks of pregnancy.