Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait


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The evidence has been in for some time. Scheduling births may be convenient for physicians, hospitals, and expectant parents; BUT it is generally not good for the health of mothers and babies. It is also very expensive.

In Wyoming, one in ten of our babies are born too soon. Many of these babies must be transferred out of state to receive the intensive care that they need. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant mortality and for many of them that survive, they suffer with life-long disabilities. The average cost for a preterm birth is more than ten times that of a healthy baby.

The optimal time for a baby to be born is after 39 gestational weeks. Infants born prior to 39 weeks, including those born 37-38 weeks, are at an increased risk of adverse outcomes including admission to a neonatal intensive care unit. These outcomes and associated complications can result in dramatic cost increase. Infant mortality is also higher for infants born before 39 weeks.

Inductions and C-sections are sometimes medically necessary. We are grateful these interventions are available when needed. However, since 1996, C-section rates have risen every year – reaching 33% nationwide in 2009.

Wyoming Medicaid does not pay for elective procedures, so hospitals and practitioners are urged to discourage unnecessary procedures. Inductions and C-sections, unless a medical necessity, should be avoided, especially before 39 gestational weeks.

The Wyoming Hospital Association, Wyoming Medical Society, March of Dimes, Wyoming Business Coalition on Health and Wyoming Department of Health are working collaboratively with organizations across the state to reduce these early elective deliveries. A resource on the March of Dimes website has information and tools available for hospitals and providers to use. The site link is: http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/less-than-39-weeks-toolkit.aspx.

Please let us know how we can best help you reduce these optional early deliveries, save families from health issues for their babies, and reduce the cost of health care in our state. To reach us, please contact Danielle Marks, Women and Infant Health Program Manager, Wyoming Department of Health at danielle.marks@wyo.gov or 307-777-7944.

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