Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Dennis Schrader - 716.228.5611
dschrader@marchofdimes.com

Contact: Nelson Andino - 917.312.2144
nandino@marchofdimes.com

MARCH OF DIMES PARTNERS WITH NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND AMERICAN CONGRESS OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS TO ADDRESS LATE PRETERM BIRTH

Statewide Health Agencies Team Up on Prematurity Awareness Month Initiative

New York, New York, November 30, 2010 - In an effort to reduce the number of late preterm births, the March of Dimes New York Chapter announced today it will partner with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG District II) to help educate health care providers and the public on the importance of the last weeks of pregnancy and the risk of early deliveries.  A healthy, full term-pregnancy lasts 39-40 weeks, yet there has been a rise in births scheduled prior to that time through inductions and C-sections that are not medically necessary - a practice once thought to be safe.  Research shows that scheduling births, even a few weeks too early, may result in babies having feeding, breathing and learning problems.  They are also more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

"This collaboration will help establish more quality improvement programs that will have a positive impact on moms and babies across the state," said Dr. Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, Senior Vice President and Chair of OB/GYN at Lutheran Medical Center.  "Together we are launching an aggressive education campaign for women and physicians, and have developed educational tools and resources to fight elective, non-medically necessary, early deliveries."

For the first time in three decades of increases, the nation achieved a decline in the preterm birth rate, with a drop to 12.3 percent.  New York State's preterm birth rate also improved with a drop to 12 percent over the past two years.  However, the national and state rates are still too far from the Healthy People 2010 goal of 7.6 percent.  More than half a million babies still are born preterm each year, a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually. 

The March of Dimes is engaged in several initiatives to help eliminate non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries prior to full term.  Along with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Department of Health, the March of Dimes collaborated to develop a tool kit to guide and support obstetrical providers, clinical staff, hospitals, and health care organizations to develop a successful quality improvement program to eliminate elective deliveries less than 39 weeks and help more babies be born healthy.

The initial focus of this effort in the obstetric arena will be lowering the number of elective deliveries and preterm births across New York State and across the country, including reducing the rate of inductions and C-sections performed prior to 39 weeks gestation.  The March of Dimes is working with hospital partners in five states - New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas - to pilot the new tool kit.  Collectively, these states represent 40 percent of all births in the United States, and changes in birth outcomes in these "Big 5" states can significantly alter national performance.  In New York State, the March of Dimes will implement the tool kit at Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island and Claxton Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg for a one-year period.  The tool kit is available at:

http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/medicalresources_39weeks.html.

The New York State Department of Health, in collaboration with the National Initiative for Children's Health Care Quality (NICHQ) and Regional Perinatal Center hospitals, recently launched the NYS Obstetric and Neonatal Quality Collaborative (NYSONQC) to improve patient safety and improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.  Regional Perinatal Center (RPC) hospitals are the highest level birthing hospitals in the state and receive funding from the department to improve the quality of obstetric and neonatal care in a network of birthing hospitals.  The collaborative currently includes at least 15 RPC hospitals, with the effort extending to other hospitals over time.  This collaborative continues a statewide, systematic effort to address patient safety and quality of care in obstetrical hospital settings.  Hospitals in the collaborative review their performance and adopt strategies as needed to improve, including the tool kit, along with other tools and resources.  The New York collaborative will result in the development of additional tools and resources to enhance this effort.  In addition to the tool kit, the March of Dimes will also provide patient educational materials to support the initiative.

Dr. Richard Daines, Commissioner of the New York State Health Department, stated that "the NYS Obstetric and Neonatal Quality Collaborative will bring together leaders in perinatal health in NYS to explore opportunities to use evidence based information to reduce late preterm birth.  The Department's collaboration with March of Dimes and ACOG will significantly enhance this effort."

"It's important for women to educate themselves about this matter," said Donna Montalto, MPP, Executive Director of ACOG District II.

Ob-Gyn Dr. Cynthia Chazotte, Co-Chair of ACOG District II's Safe Motherhood Initiative and Professor and Vice Chair of Ob/Gyn at the Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine said, "Cesarean delivery on maternal request should not be performed before gestational age of 39 weeks has been accurately determined unless there is documentation of lung maturity.  Furthermore, potential risks of cesarean delivery on maternal request include a longer hospital stay and greater complications in subsequent pregnancies, including uterine rupture and hemorrhage from abnormal implantation of the placenta."

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com/ny or nacersano.org.  Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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