NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Here’s a heads up for anyone who may be expecting: Think twice before opting to deliver your child early.
The state Department of Health has launched a campaign to encourage Tennessee moms to carry their babies full-term in an effort to reduce birth complications.
Dr. Michael Warren is the department’s Director of Family Health and Wellness. He says nearly one-third of all babies are now born prior to their due dates, and in many cases for the sake of convenience.
“What we’re really trying to focus on are those deliveries that are not medically indicated. Those that are done at the convenience of the family or the convenience of the health care provider that really could be put off for another week or two."
Warrens says doctors used to think delivering early was risk free, but more recent research indicates those last few days of gestation are vitally important.
“When a baby is born electively, and labor hasn’t started on its own, those babies are at risk for breathing problems, they’re at risk for having jaundice, having problems feeding. They’re even at risk for dying during that first year of life – at greater risk than babies who are not born electively prior to that time."
Warren notes that the brain of a fetus gains 50 percent of its weight in the last five weeks of gestation.
The State of Tennessee is calling its campaign to promote full-term pregnancies "Healthy Tennessee Babies are Worth the Wait."