News and Information

May 17, 2012

Babies Born Electively Before 39 Weeks Drops At Franciscan, Across State

Two Franciscan Health System hospitals are among the leaders in a significant statewide increase in the number of babies born during full-term pregnancies of 39 weeks, a trend that experts say benefits mother and child.

For babies born after 37 weeks and before 39 weeks in Washington last year, the proportion born via induction or C-section with no medical reason plunged 65 percent, from 15.3 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 5.4 percent by the fourth quarter of 2011, the Washington State Hospital Association announced May 9. This represents more than 650 fewer early elective deliveries statewide over a year.

This trend was also reflected at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. The early elective delivery rates dropped significantly at each Franciscan hospital and have been at or near zero for the last 12 months.

The Leapfrog Group, an employer-focused health care advocacy organization, commended both St. Joseph and St. Francis for "being so proactive in reducing their rate" and it "asks all hospitals to take similar measures." The Leapfrog target is less than 5 percent.

Babies born prior to 39 weeks gestation face higher rates of complications and are more likely to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit, experts say. With medical staff leadership and the efforts of an interdisciplinary team of nurses, midwives and physicians at Franciscan, the organization has nearly eliminated elective inductions that are not medically necessary.

"A full-term pregnancy is good for both the baby and the mother," said Debbie Raniero, manager of the Family Birth Center at St. Joseph. "Encouraging full-term pregnancies reflects our commitment to best-in-class clinical practices, to providing the highest quality care, and to excellent outcomes."

A total of 3,610 babies were born at St. Joseph Medical Center is fiscal year 2011 (July 2010-June 2011). At St. Francis, 1,162 babies were born during the same time. Women interested in learning more about Franciscan services or connecting with a Franciscan physician or midwife, call 1-888-825-3227 toll-free or visit the Franciscan website.

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