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Pre-term elective births to end at 20 LA hospitals

The Times-Picayune, July 15, 2011

At the urging of the state health department, 20 Louisiana hospitals, including several in the New Orleans region, have agreed to end elective births for any woman whose child is short of 39 weeks gestation, about a week shy of full term. Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein pushed the initiative as part of an effort to improve Louisiana's historically poor rankings in neonatal care, birth weight, infant mortality and other birth outcome assessments. Obstetricians sometimes induce labor at a mother's request before she has reached full term. The state has not released numbers of elective pre-term births, but Greenstein said the numbers are high enough to warrant a focus on the issue, given the fact that late-term organ development, particularly of the brain and lungs, correlate with better health outcomes. Studies also suggest that pre-term births carry higher rates of complications for mothers.