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Fewer Early Elective Deliveries Is Good News for Mom and Baby

As San Diego birth injury lawyers, we are pleased by a new report that the rate of early elective deliveries dropped for the third year in a row, falling to less than five percent.

An early elective delivery is defined as a cesarean or induction delivery that occurs before 39 weeks without medical justification. While scheduled births may be more convenient for patients and doctors, delivering early can lead to problems for both mother and baby. For instance, there is an increased risk of birth injuries, continuing health problems, and even death.

Given the potential risks, medical experts recommend that infants should not be born before 39 weeks, unless their health care provider considers it medically necessary. This is because the brain, lungs, and other organs are not completely developed until the last few weeks of gestation.

According to the Leapfrog Group’s latest findings, healthcare facilities have made remarkable progress in reducing the number of early elective deliveries. In 2013, 71 percent of the reporting hospitals met Leapfrog’s early elective deliveries target rate of less than five percent, compared to 46 percent of hospitals in the 2012 survey.

“This is a remarkable reduction,” Edward McCabe, chief medical officer at the March of Dimes, told the Los Angeles Times. “It involves changing the culture of the hospital and that is always very hard to do.”

While the rates of early elective deliveries varied widely among California hospitals, the state ranked among the best in the country with a rate of just three percent. By comparison, the average in 2010 was nearly 15 percent.