According to the hospital quality watchdog
The Leapfrog Group, some California hospitals are electively delivering more than 40 percent
of newborn babies early for no valid medical reason.
This is an alarming statistic since
early elective deliveries can lead to an increased risk of birth injuries,
continuing health problems, and even death.
According to Leapfrog, 57,000 early elective deliveries were conducted
in 2010 by the 773 hospitals surveyed. An early elective delivery is defined
as a cesarean or induction delivery that occurs before 39 weeks without
The rates of early elective deliveries varied widely among California hospitals
from rates lower than 5percent to rates that exceeded 60 percent.
Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center’s rate was among the lowest
in the state at 4.9 percent. However, several California hospitals exceeded Leapfrog’s recommended
rate of 12 percent.
- UC San Diego Health System: 21.7%
- University Of California, Irvine Medical Center: 26.2%
- Huntington Hospital: 38%
- Methodist Hospital Of Southern California: 40.3%
- Los Robles Hospital And Medical Center: 42%
- Torrance Memorial Medical Center: 44.9%
- St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital: 46.8%
- Riverside Community Hospital: 55.1%
- El Camino Hospital: 64.8%
Early elective deliveries pose risks to both mother and baby. Medical experts
recommend that infants should not be born before 39 weeks, unless their
health care provider considers it necessary. This is because the brain,
lungs, and other organs are not completely developed until the last few
weeks of gestation. As a result, early elective deliveries can lead to
birth defects as well as birth injuries.
In light of their findings, Leapfrog has launched an initiative to reduce
early elective delivery rates to less than 12 percent in all hospitals.