Entries in Neonatal Care (2)


Texas Proposal Looks to Curb Elective Deliveries Before 39 Weeks

Photodisc/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas health officials estimate they could save $36.5 million in Medicaid costs by curbing convenient, but risky, baby deliveries before the 39th week of pregnancy, while reining in use of expensive neonatal intensive care units.

For a variety of reasons -- some as mundane as moms-to-be wanting to guarantee that their obstetricians won't be on vacation when they go into labor, or that Grandma will be able to plan her trip to help out in the nursery -- some obstetricians agree to early deliveries, either by Caesarean section or induced labor.

However, early elective childbirth can subject newborns to many of the stresses of prematurity, which studies have shown can include blindness, underdeveloped lungs and long-term emotional, intellectual, developmental and behavioral issues.

These can include attention deficit disorder, said Dr. Frank Mazza, chief patient safety officer for the Austin-based Seton Family of Hospitals.

A half dozen Seton hospitals helped pioneer a highly successful program that drastically reduced NICU use by following American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidance to stop performing elective deliveries before 39 weeks.  The program had no effect on medically necessary early deliveries.

By strictly adhering to that cutoff, Seton hospitals reduced NICU costs associated with prematurity and traumatic delivery from $4.5 million a year to "somewhere in the neighborhood of $186,000 a year," Mazza said in an interview Monday.  The hospitals have consistently posted NICU savings for the last seven years, he added.

That test program, which also led to more healthy births, provided much of the impetus for the cost-saving proposal put forth last month by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  That measure seeks to reduce early elective deliveries and more closely scrutinize which babies are admitted to NICUs.

"We just really want to put an extra check and balance in place, and have doctors or hospitals call in and verify why that baby needs NICU treatment before they put them in," said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for HHSC in Austin, which administers the Medicaid program in Texas.

"We feel like that extra step may just help make sure that the babies in NICUs really need that level of care, and that any other baby that could be better-served or as well-served in just the regular nursery, would."

While it's unclear how many cash-strapped states might follow suit and try to find similar savings in the delivery room and NICUs, any such actions could cut deeply into hospital revenues. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Parents Reading To Hospitalized Infants Can be Beneficial

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- It may come as no surprise, but reading to a newborn child can help improve the relationship between parent and infant. A new study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics shows that 69 percent of children spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit after birth responded positively after being read to by a parent.

The study sought to find if there was a difference between newborn children spending time with a parent immediately after birth, if going into the NICU made a difference. Surveying 120 families, the study showed 69 percent of parents reported that reading helped them feel closer to their baby, and 86 percent reported it was enjoyable.

Parents also reported an increased sense of control and more intimate feelings with their child after reading.  One study participant shared her feelings on the results with Time magazine.

"Reading gave us a way to stay close. I couldn't talk to her or touch her, but she heard the sound of my voice. That simple activity helped me get through the situation, and I have beautiful memories of the experience,” said Mélissa Asselin, who has a five-year-old daughter with pulmonary hypertension.

The study concluded that parents who read to their babies in neonatal intensive care were three times as likely than other parents to continue to do so in the future.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio