Innovative Approaches To Improving Birth Outcomes

Innovative Approaches To Improving Birth Outcomes Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Preterm births—defined as birth before 37 weeks gestation—are common and can lead to significant health consequences, particularly among babies born to underserved women. Infants born prematurely face increased risk of a number of problems, including low birth weight, chronic breathing issues, and lifelong nervous system disabilities.

In addition to this public health problem, it is known that infants delivered electively (i.e., without a medical reason) at 37 or 38 weeks gestational age are at greater risk of admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) than those born at 39 weeks gestational age or later. Despite the increased risk, early elective inductions and planned cesarean sections continue to be common practice.

This month’s featured Innovations describe three different approaches to improving outcomes for newborns and pregnant women—a payment policy aimed at eliminating early, nonmedically necessary, elective births; a pregnancy medical home model that helps primary care practices provide robust care management and care coordination; and a program that provides free doula care to underserved women.

The featured QualityTools include a toolkit that provides resources for health care providers and community-based organizations to help expectant mothers get evidence-based care to improve birth outcomes; a toolkit that addresses quality improvement in prenatal care and offers a collection of “lessons learned” by health plans serving Medicaid members; and a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health.

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