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All Tennessee Birthing Hospitals Pledge to Wait for Babies to Arrive Naturally

Monday, December 23, 2013 | 05:03am

NASHVILLE – One hundred percent of the hospitals that deliver babies in Tennessee have agreed “a healthy baby is worth the wait” and have signed pledges to implement “hard stop” policies to reduce early elective deliveries. The Tennessee Department of Health has partnered with the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care and the March of Dimes to reduce early elective deliveries in Tennessee, since shortening the time a baby develops in the womb can create a range of serious health problems.

“We are proud and appreciative of the accomplishments of this great coalition of partners who have made rapid progress working together in this important effort to help protect and improve the health of Tennessee’s youngest residents,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Reducing early elective deliveries is helping our babies in Tennessee get a better start in life.”

Thanks to combined efforts by hospitals, clinicians and health leaders, the number of early elective deliveries is decreasing in Tennessee. In May 2012, nearly 18 percent of deliveries before 39 weeks in Tennessee were considered elective. Just 16 months later, the percentage is consistently below four percent. 

“Babies born too early are at risk for respiratory distress, jaundice, hypoglycemia and other conditions,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael D. Warren, MD, MPH. “They may also require more health care in the first year of life and are at greater risk for death during the first 12 months.”

“Prematurity is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in Tennessee, and we are pleased to be a partner in this initiative to help Tennessee infants arrive on time and healthy,” said Tennessee Hospital Association President Craig Becker. “Our members are fully engaged in this effort to support the good health of our patients and their growing families.”

The Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait initiative targets expectant and prospective parents, health care providers and health care facilities to educate them about the benefits of waiting until at least 39 weeks for delivery of babies. Learn more about the initiative and what you can do to reduce premature births at

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

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