Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Early elective deliveries

Friday, September 19, 2014

To the editor,

As an OB/GYN Physician in Marshall, I see many pregnant women who are a few weeks from a full term pregnancy and are feeling really uncomfortable. Some are ready to schedule a delivery by induction or cesarean section before they have reached their 39th week of pregnancy. They may know friends or family members whose doctors have agreed to schedule such a delivery.

But I know that healthy babies are worth the wait. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby's health and development. Development of critical organs, including the brain, lungs and liver, and the immune system occurs during the last weeks of pregnancy. Research published last year shows the risk of infant death doubles when a baby is born at 37 weeks of pregnancy as compared to 39 or 40 weeks. Moreover, babies born at 37 weeks are more likely to have a difficult time breathing and more likely to be admitted to the NICU. As such, I fully support the mission of the March of Dimes to avoid deliveries before 39 weeks unless there is a medical necessity. I am proud that Fitzgibbon Hospital has joined the coalition and made the pledge to give babies the best start in life. On Sept. 16, Fitzgibbon Hospital was recognized by the March of Dimes and Missouri Hospital Association for this work. We have reduced the number of early elective deliveries to zero for the last 14 months.

Our hospital has been working with the March of Dimes to eliminate medically unnecessary c-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy because all babies deserve the best opportunity for a healthy start in life. We are proud of this recognition of our work by the March of Dimes and Missouri Hospital Association.

Thank you,

Karen Song, MD, FACOG
Fitzgibbon Hospital Marshall Women's Care