November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, which makes it a prefect time to raise awareness of risk involves due to early deliveries.
UnitedHealthcare’s Baby BlocksTM has launched a new mobile incentive program that is available to Medicaid beneficiaries in 14 states and people enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans. Users can access the interactive “baby blocks” via an app on their iPhones and Android smartphones.The app will then track their prenatal visits and Women who enroll in Baby Blocks can earn rewards for completing prenatal, postpartum and healthy-baby appointments.
Women who enroll in Baby Blocks earn rewards by completing prenatal, postpartum and healthy-baby appointments. Users access interactive “baby blocks” via the mobile web app on their iPhones and Android smartphones to track their prenatal and postnatal visits, receive updates via email for appointments, wellness-related text messages and can connect directly with maternity nurses. Rewards such as gift cards to retail outlets and teething rings, diaper bags, and thermometers can be earned for keeping prenatal and postnatal visit schedule.
More than 11 percent of the babies born nationwide last year were considered premature, earning the nation a “C” grade according to a new March of Dimes report. Full-term deliveries are important for the health of babies and mothers, considering births before 37 weeks of pregnancy account for 35 percent of all infant deaths, according to the CDC. Encouraging a healthy and full-term pregnancy is the responsibility of parents and health professionals, and technology, such as, UnitedHealthcare’s Baby BlocksTM is helping make that possible.
National Prematurity Awareness Month: A Time to Talk About the Risks Associated with Delivering Babies Before 39 Weeks
By: Sam Ho, M.D., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare
One out of eight babies nationwide each year is born premature, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Premature births represent a small percentage of all births; however, these infants comprise a large proportion of all infant deaths.
Appropriate prenatal and postnatal care is critically important for mothers’ and babies’ health. It is also important for mothers and families to understand the risks associated with elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation and their potential impact on infant health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines full-term as 39 weeks and advises against elective deliveries before that.
The potential complications involved with elective childbirth before 39 weeks are very real, yet some first-time mothers may be unaware of the risks. Babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have respiratory problems and developmental delays, according to numerous published studies.
A review of claims data by UnitedHealthcare showed that 48 percent of newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at select hospitals were from scheduled admissions for delivery – many before 39 weeks of gestation. By being scheduled, or electively induced, these deliveries were prevented from progressing to full term. After sharing these findings, physicians and hospitals altered practice patterns and realized a 46-percent decrease in NICU admissions in the first three months.
The U.S. has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country. In 2013 more than 11 percent of births occurred before 37 week of gestation, earning the nation a “C” grade from the March of Dimes. Preterm birth and infant mortality rates have been improving in recent years, in part because of an effort to eliminate unnecessary deliveries before 39 weeks.
However, we need to do more. More than 1.3 million babies were delivered by cesarean section in 2011, with wide variation in C-section rates at hospitals nationwide, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota. The overall C-section rate was 33 percent, but the rate ranged between 19 and 48 percent at hospitals across the nation; the researchers could not identify evidence-based factors to explain the variation. C-section deliveries can carry a variety of risks, including infection, blood clots and problems in future pregnancies.