Fewer Pre-Term Babies In Washington

May 9, 2012

Mothers in Washington are carrying their babies longer in the womb to protect against complications. Just a few years ago, if a baby was born at 37 weeks which is two weeks early it was still considered full-term. Now, research has shown babies born two weeks early are more likely to have medical problems.

The Washington State Hospital Association, state government and the March of Dimes are leading a campaign to reduce “elective” deliveries, when a woman chooses to induce or have a c-section. Dr. Tom Benedetti, an obstetrics professor at the University of Washington, says he tries to persuade women against a scheduled delivery.

Dr. Tom Benedetti: “When faced w fact the baby could get sick, the vast majority of families decide against it. When push comes to shove and patients demand that, most of us just say no.”

Just a few years ago, elective deliveries were considered optional. During the last weeks of pregnancy, all of a baby’s organs are getting stronger, the brain is getting bigger, and the baby is adding a layer of fat that keeps it warm. Doctors say pre-term deliveries are still necessary when there’s some complication that could threaten either the baby or the mom. During a little over a year of monitoring, the hospital association found the number of elective pre-term deliveries dropped by nearly 70 percent statewide.

Copyright 2012 KPLU