March of Dimes Recognizes WMHS for Giving More Babies a Healthy Start
Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) has reduced the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. This will give more babies in Maryland a healthy start in life, as babies born too early may have more health problems at birth and later in life, according to the March of Dimes.
"We are proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who tackle this issue in our community and established policies to avoid scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary," said Nancy Adams, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive at WMHS.
At the Maryland Patient Safety Center Conference on June 11, 2015, the March of Dimes partnered with the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Patient Safety Center to honor qualifying hospitals with a banner to display indicating the hospital's commitment to improving the quality of care for moms and babies. The goal was an elective birth rate of 5 percent or lower; WMHS had no elective births that were less than 39 weeks during that period.
The banner program is a component of the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign, which 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 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,” said Scott Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. "I commend Western Maryland Health System for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”
The most urgent infant health problem in the U.S. today is premature birth. It affects more than 450,000 babies each year and is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five. In Maryland, 8,914 babies are born too soon every year. 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.
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.org/39weeks and youtube.com/watch?v=T6XcWBcaliA.