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Program seeks to reduce dangerous early-elective births

Expecting parents in North Carolina may have the desire to schedule every aspect of their pregnancy down to the day. This is why many mothers have become part of the trend to induce early labor to fit into their schedules, rather than having an educated medical reason for giving birth early.

Although scheduling a date for delivery may be convenient, research has shown that it may not be best for infants and their mothers. Delivering children before they have been carried to term (typically 40 weeks) increases the risk of birth injuries. As such, some medical professionals have embarked on a campaign to prevent physicians from inducing labor without sound medical reasoning.

Since the national efforts began, early-elective deliveries have fallen dramatically: from nearly 28 percent of all births to just 4.8 percent in the hospitals involved in the programs. By educating expecting parents and requiring approval for early deliveries, the program has sought to reduce the number of seemingly preventable birth-related injuries that can occur. Many also hope that the results of these efforts will encourage other hospitals to institute similar policies.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to induce early labor. Yet it is a doctor's duty to make sure they advise their patients thoughtfully and avoid making medical decisions that could be harmful. The sad reality is, however, that medical professionals don't always provide advice or make critical decisions that are in the best interests of patients, which is why medical malpractice laws allow patients to seek financial compensation for negligence.

Birth injuries often affect children for their entire lives, which is why they are often devastating for children and their families. Parents can benefit from gaining a full understanding of their rights in the event that their child's birth doesn't go according to plan.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Progress in Effort to Cut Elective Baby Deliveries," Laura Landro, April 8, 2013

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