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Progress Made on Slowing Early Elective Deliveries

Over the past few weeks our Chicago birth injury lawyers have frequently discussed the concerns raised by medical experts and other advocates regarding the rise in early elective deliveries and C-section births. This week the Wall Street Journal‘s “Health Blog” also touched on the topic. The WSJ post explored a bit of good news, noting that there has been some progress in the quest to slow down the seemingly non-stop increase in elective deliveries.

The slight reduction in these births, experts claim, can be attributed to an awareness campaign that is working to share information about the risks of alternatives to natural birth. The goal is that all expectant mothers will learn about the value that a few extra weeks of gestation has on the health of a newborn. Sometime a child needs to be born before 39 weeks gestation for medical reasons. However, when there is no clear medical necessity, electing to birth the child early usually has more risks than potential benefits. The health consequences are the most important, but financial issues are also at play. Early elective births are more expensive than other options, and with no need for the early election it is difficult to justify the expense.

A new report from The Leapfrog Group suggests that early induced labor and C-section rates are dropping-but only very slowly. However, even avoiding an increase in these rates should likely be viewed as a positive step. According to the report, which examined data from over 750 hospitals nationwide, 39% of hospitals met their target reduction plan in early births. The target was to reduce early elective deliveries to 5% of total deliveries. The fact that roughly 4 out of 10 participating hospitals were able to do that is encouraging. That is especially true because the average rate from the year before was 30% of all birth. Even those that didn’t’ quite meet the target saw some improvement with 65% of all hospitals showing decreases in 2011 from 2010. It remains unclear whether there was anything about the participating hospitals that are different from hospitals nationwide.

In the past many OBs have made the mistake of sacrificing child development in the 37th to 39th weeks of pregnancy in exchange for having more control over the delivery time. In the end, this is a mistake that may lead to increases in overall birth injury rates. It is also a mistake for doctors to pressure woman into having an induction. As the executive director of Childbirth Connection explained, there is “no reliable national data [showing] that woman’s demands [are] driving” the increase in induction rates.

Our birth injury lawyers understand that at the end of the day the absolute best delivers are those that occur naturally without early election or surgery. Medical technology advances which allow alternatives are fantastic for those mothers who for various reasons may have too many risks with natural birth. However, the benefits of these techniques for some does not mean that they are worthwhile for all. In fact, just the opposite is often true. C-sections and early elections can increase risks of either the child or mother suffering a birth injury. All local families are advised to be fully aware of this when working with their doctor to chart the best course of conduct for their pregnancy and delivery.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births