Rate of babies delivered early in U.S. hospitals drops sharply

Rate of babies delivered early in U.S. hospitals drops sharply

New statistics show the rate of baby deliveries is dropping in the U.S.

Massachusetts hospitals are raising the bar when it comes to delivering babies. A recent report stated that slightly more than one percent of babies born in Massachusetts hospitals last year were born before 39 weeks, compared to a statewide rate of 15 percent in 2010.

While Massachusetts takes the cake when it comes to delivering full term babies, the rest of the country has reason to celebrate, too. With efforts from hospitals and government officials to reduce the percentage of babies born prematurely, the national percentage for babies born before 39 weeks dropped to five percent, down from 17 percent in 2010.

The results of the study, which were released on Monday by the nonprofit hospital quality organization Leapfrog Group, suggest that babies are being born healthier, because they are achieving the full gestation period of 40 weeks. Officials note that babies born prematurely between 37 and 39 weeks, are at a higher risk of having complications at birth.

The report comes three years after Massachusetts state health officials collaborated with hospital leaders and other affiliated groups to lower early delivery rates. By achieving their goal of reducing rates, Massachusetts is celebrating the recent report as a victory and a big success.

Experts say that the decrease in premature births can be attributed to hospitals providing better documentation on pregnancy records, and changes in how hospitals define births. With more rigid regulations and more documentation during pregnancy, doctors are able to ensure that more babies are not delivered prior to their full gestation period.

In some cases, medical reasons still require early delivery in order to ensure the health of both the baby and mother, but in cases where there is a choice to deliver early or wait until the full term is reached, doctors are saying, “wait.”

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