UNM/March of Dimes to Reduce Early Births

UNM Hospital is among 100 hospitals nationwide currently working with the March of Dimes in implementing the “39+ Weeks Quality Improvement Service Package” which helps hospitals develop and implement policies and procedures to reduce medically unnecessary (elective) inductions and cesarean deliveries scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. 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.

“We’re proud to partner with the March of Dimes to give more babies a healthy start in life,” said UNM CEO Steve McKernan.”And, we’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses and the work they are doing to avoid scheduling elective inductions or caesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy.”

The quality improvement service package is part of the March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait®” campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of a full term pregnancy and also is being backed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists through a new federal program called “Strong Start.”

The service package includes 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. Included in the service package are data collection tools, information on organizing grand round presentations, access to national quality improvement experts and providers, and other support services.

More information is available at:marchofdimes.com/39weeks and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6XcWBcaliA

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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