The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a campaign called the “Strong Start Initiative,” which is designed to decrease the number of preterm births occurring every year. Babies born prematurely are more likely than babies born at full term to experience a vast array of medical complications both in infancy and across the lifespan. In order to reverse a 20 year trend of increasing rates of prematurity, the HHS has announced the availability of $40 million in grant money for programs that are exploring ways to reduce prematurity through improved prenatal care.
The “Strong Start Initiative” will focus on reducing early elective inductions, which are labors that are induced prior to 39 weeks and without any medical indication. The rate of early elective inductions has increased dramatically over the past decade and is associated with poorer outcomes for babies and increased obstetrical interventions, including cesarean section. Reversing this trend can improve the health of babies and reduce unnecessary medical intervention in birth.
In addition to creating conditions for healthier births and babies, the Strong Start Initiative has the potential to save considerable health care costs that are typically associated with preterm births. The HHS will partner with the March of Dimes, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other organizations to implement this campaign.
To learn more about current research on early elective inductions, see the recent Citizens for Midwifery article.
To learn more about the “Strong Start Initiative,” read the full press release.
Lauren Korfine & The CfM Team