Nearly 16 percent of hospitals across the peach state allow mothers to give birth early. To discourage planned early deliveries, two local hospitals are banning moms from scheduling births before 39 weeks without a medical reason... and doctors say it's working.
Dr. Russell OB-GYN Doctors Hospital says,"At 37, 38 weeks there could create respiratory problems with the baby. It can make the baby want to stay in the hospital, which could then incur extra costs and expenses. As we're in the health care reform obviously, so that makes a big difference too."
Starting July 1st, Medicaid in Georgia will not reimburse any mother who chooses to give birth early Doctors Hospital has banned the practice since 2009. Georgia Regents Medical Center does not ban early elective deliveries, but doctors there encourage mothers to wait until full term to deliver.
Shalonna Stewart, new mother says, "Both as a mother and as a nurse, I do understand the importance of letting the baby develop fully, especially given their lungs the chance to develop."
Studies show that waiting the full 39 weeks also increases the I.Q. of baby and helps brain development. And--doctors say it could save a bunch of money in medical costs.
Dr. Russel Swagner says, "In the long run, you're not going to have babies who have to be in the ICU, you're not going to have mothers staying longer. In the long run I think hospitals administrators are going to be happy this is not running up the costs."
9,000 children are prematurely born in Georgia every year. The March of Dimes' Augusta Branch is holding a three mile walk this Saturday to promote banning early elective delivery, as well as to raise money for the costs associated with those premature births. That will be Saturday morning at 9 a.m.