DENVER (CBS4)- Two hospitals in Colorado have announced plans to stop elective deliveries of babies before 39 weeks. They’re joining a growing number of hospitals discouraging expecting mothers from scheduling C-sections and inducing labor before 39 weeks.
North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and McKee Medical Center in Loveland are the latest to change their policies.
“I’m going on vacation or Grandma’s making a special trip out of town, what’s the big deal if we do it two or three days earlier?,” said Rose Medical Center Women’s Center spokesman Dr. Steve Holt, when explaining some of the reasons expectant mothers give doctors to induce or schedule an early C-section.
“There’s a reason why labor happens at 40 weeks because that’s really when the baby’s ready to do the best as possible in the outside world,” said Holt.
A new study shows the risk of newborn death is 50 percent lower in babies born at 39 weeks or later. It also shows a baby born before 39 weeks is at higher risk of hearing and vision loss and other health problems.
“Increased rate of respiratory problems, jaundice and other difficulties with breastfeeding,” said Holt.
There’s also a risk the baby may have to spend time in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, adding to the cost and worry.
Doctors know sometimes it is inevitable a woman will be induced early.
“If there is a good medical reason, if someone has high blood pressure, if there’s a problem with the baby’s heart rate, if there are any medical reasons why the baby should be delivered that we not wait until 39 weeks,” said Holt.
Other hospitals have made similar changes, including Centura Health, which operates 13 hospitals in Colorado, and HealthOne Hospitals.