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UF Health Jacksonville Honored for Effort in Delivering Healthier Babies

Published: June 27, 2014 By: Tiffany Wilson
The March of Dimes and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists banner recognizing UF Heath Jacksonville's efforts is now on display in labor and delivery. View Larger Image

The March of Dimes "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" campaign aims to reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks

UF Health Jacksonville was honored by the March of Dimes and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for putting a stop to elective deliveries before 39 complete weeks of pregnancy.

Those final weeks of pregnancy can seem like the toughest, but they’re “one of the greatest time investments in the world,” said Guy Benrubi, MD, FACOG.

“We now know that, if you wait to 39 weeks gestation to deliver, you’ll get healthier babies who do better in school and have less chance of having attention deficit disorder,” said Benrubi, University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville senior associate dean for faculty affairs and chair of obstetrics and gynecology.

Benrubi said many moms-to-be believe it’s alright to be induced after they reach 38 weeks of gestation. But in recent years, studies have shown that additional week of pregnancy makes a major difference.

According to the March of Dimes, here's why a baby needs 39 weeks:

  • Important organs, like brain, lungs and liver, get the time they need to develop.
  • There are less likely to be vision and hearing problems after birth.
  • The baby has time to gain more weight in the womb. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
  • The infant can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after birth. Babies born early sometimes have difficulties with those functions.

The hospital received a large banner honoring its commitment to avoid scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks, except when medically necessary. The criteria for the recognition is to have a rate of 5 percent or less pregnant patients receiving the early deliveries. Honoree hospitals also must have official policies in place against early elective deliveries.

“We have performed the best in the region,” said Marilyn Melison, interim director of women’s services at the hospital. “Our rate is 0.0 percent. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“Thank you for all of your hard work,” said March of Dimes’ Katie Ownby, First Coast March for Babies community director, as she presented the banner to UF Health Jacksonville staff during a ceremony June 25.

Reducing early elective deliveries is one of the key focus areas of the March of Dimes’ “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” campaign.  In an average week in Florida 549 babies are born preterm and 29 die before their first birthday, many times as a result of their early births. Early elective deliveries can cause lifelong health challenges for the baby, including breathing difficulty, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.


The March of Dimes and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists banner recognizing UF Heath Jacksonville's efforts is now on display in labor and delivery.

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