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Group effort helps cut number of early elective births

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A group of health care stakeholders has helped reduce the rate of early elective infant deliveries for nonmedical reasons in Illinois to 2% in 2014 from 24% in 2010, the Midwest Business Group on Health said.

Working with Illinois hospitals and doctors, the collaborative of health care providers, insurers, and consumer and business groups led by the MBGH resulted in 70% of Illinois hospitals reducing the number of unnecessary cesarean sections and inductions, MBGH said Wednesday in a statement.

The data was derived from Washington-based nonprofit The Leapfrog Group’s annual hospital survey, conducted from June through December 2014, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to Leapfrog, the national average for early elective deliveries was 3.4% in 2014. An early elective delivery is defined by Leapfrog as occurring between 37 and 39 weeks of pregnancy.

According to MBGH, delivering a baby prior to full term for a nonmedical reason, such as convenience, can result in long-term health issues, along with increased costs from neonatal intensive care unit admissions and longer hospital stays.

Additionally, studies indicate that delivering prior to 39 weeks can negatively affect the growth of the still-developing brain and lungs, MBGH said.

“We’ve shown that by coordinating efforts across all health care stakeholders, we can fill gaps in care and improve the overall health of targeted populations,” Chicago-based MBGH President and CEO Larry Boress said in the statement. “It’s a template for other communities and health conditions.”

The collaborative includes the March of Dimes, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Chicago and Illinois departments of public health, the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative, EverThrive Illinois, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Midwest Employee Benefit Funds Coalition, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Cigna Corp. and Humana Inc.