Dramatic drop in scheduling babies' deliveries as moms learn risks.


by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 Healthlink

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Posted on September 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 4:59 PM

At just 15 days old little Luke is perfect and precious. His mother battled high blood pressure all through pregnancy. It often leads to early delivery. But her doctors worked closely with her to carry him full term. 

"I felt they echoed my thought which is "I don't want anything to be rushed," said Gabrielle Gruber, Luke's mom.

Her baby was born at University of Washington Medical Center. It's where Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology,Dr. Tom Benedettiis leading a statewide effort to lower the rate of elective delivery before the 39th week of pregnancy. Why?

"We became aware that the medical evidence was showing that there were some hazards to being delivered between 37 and 39 weeks that hadn't been previously appreciated," Dr. Benedetti said. 

Deciding to induce labor is a balancing act. It can be best for a baby's or mother's health. But sometimes it's for convenience. 

"Others were delivered because that was Grandma's birthday and they wanted it to be that day," said Dr. Benedetti.

More and more research shows babies born before 39 weeks experience a higher rate of breathing problems, a harder time maintaining body temperature, and a higher chance of cerebral palsy. Other problems can show up  years later. 

"Then there were the surprising studies that show that, you could actually show difficulties in reading and spelling at 5 and 10 years of age in babies who had been born at 37 weeks as opposed to 39 weeks. That surprised a lot of people," said Dr. Benedetti.
Now with the word getting out, more babies are being born full term like Luke.

"We're sort of proud of that," said Dr. Benedetti.

Experts say good prenatal care is key to preventing early delivery.