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Delaware Section report

Dr. Kirsten M. SmithKirsten M. Smith, MD, section chair

Delaware Section members have been busy attending and planning meetings. In November, Nancy Fan, MD, section secretary, and I met with Kate DuPont Phillips, senior program analyst at Nemours Health and Prevention Services, to discuss how to promote breastfeeding in the state. Later that month, Dr. Fan was inaugurated as the 171st Medical Society of Delaware president at its annual meeting.

In March, we had nine representatives at the Congressional Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. Planning is underway for the Delaware Section Lobby Day on June 5. The evening program will focus on maternal substance abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. Bawn Maguire, RN, MSN, outreach coordinator at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, and David Paul, MD, neonatologist and interim chair of pediatrics at Christiana Care Health System in Newark, will be our speakers.

Current legislative issues in Delaware include concerns about direct-entry midwives practicing in the state. In June 2013, the Delaware Legislature passed a bill that significantly increased the fine for practicing midwifery without a permit. A collaborative agreement with a physician is a requirement for obtaining a permit from the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). Only one certified professional midwife has a permit in Delaware, and her practice is exclusively for the Amish population.

Supporters of the home birth community, concerned with possible loss of access to certified professional midwife care, engaged DPH to begin a discussion with legislators, practicing obstetricians and pediatricians, certified nurse-midwives, and interested certified professional midwives. The goal is to formulate a home birth policy in Delaware, acknowledging the need for safe outcomes for mothers and infants without limiting access or choice. There have been two public stakeholder meetings in Delaware, and now the discussion has moved to two subcommittees, one for policy and one for relationship building.

Legislation that would give the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) up-to-date information on Down syndrome every year from the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware passed the House and has been sent to the Senate. DHSS would be required to disseminate the information to all doctors, counselors, nurses, midwives, and anyone else who would be in a position to treat a parent whose fetus or infant has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.