Hospitals to crack down on induced labors

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Hoping to schedule your baby's birth while your mother's in town, or before the doctor goes on vacation? Labor is becoming less of a late-night surprise, but some hospitals are starting to tighten the rules for elective deliveries — because some babies are being delivered too early.

More hospitals are expected to crack down as regulators begin new quality measurements next spring that aim to reduce too-early elective inductions and first-time cesareans.

Induced labor is on the rise for lots of reasons, some medical and some not. But recent research shows a troubling link between elective inductions and these so-called "late preemies." These aren't the dire too-small babies that the word premature conjures, but near-term babies who nonetheless are at higher risk of breathing disorders and other problems than babies who finish their very last weeks in the womb.

... New guidelines will require that a mother's cervix be nearly ready for natural labor ...

... Hospitals also will have to report cesareans for first-time mothers, too often a result of a failed induction.

... the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have long discouraged elective deliveries before the 39th week of pregnancy. ... At Utah's Intermountain Healthcare, for example, 28 percent of elective deliveries were breaking ACOG's rule ...

Most were being induced in week 37 ... those near-term babies had more than double the risk of ending up in neonatal ICU, suffering respiratory distress ...

... today, only about 3 percent of Intermountain's elective deliveries occur before 39 weeks — and infant hospitalizations have dropped ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448