Early elective births dropped from 8.82 percent to zero in less than a year at Sequoia Hospital, a move hospital officials say will be good for newborns.
The reduction in elective early deliveries is part of a shift in the Dignity Health system, which includes Sequoia. Overall, the 32 hospitals in the health system that operate labor and delivery units reduced deliveries between 37 and 39 weeks to 1 percent and saved an estimated $1 million in neonatal intensive care unit costs, according to Sequoia Hospital.
"The effort is about giving children the best possible start in life,” said Dr. John Hoff, OB/GYN. "We are constantly striving to provide the highest quality care, keeping up with the latest research while providing the birth experience mothers want.”
In recent years, more new parents were choosing to induce labor early for a variety of reasons such as simply to better plan or to alleviate discomfort that often comes in the final months of pregnancy, said Hoff.
While that has become more commonplace, national statistics show an increase in newborn feeding problems, respiratory distress syndrome and admission into neonatal intensive units as risks associated with early elective births, according to the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. Newborns who are admitted to the NICU typically spend five days there.
Knowing the risks, the effort to reduce the number of elected early births started. That doesn't mean labor can't be induced for medical reasons, said Hoff.
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