Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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December 8, 2012

Hospital incentives help babies determine own birth dates

The evidence has been in for some time. Scheduling births may be convenient for physicians, hospitals and expectant parents, but it generally isn't good for the health of mothers and children. It's expensive to boot.

To get a baby to arrive on schedule, doctors often perform a cesarean section, the most common surgery in the United States Since 1996, C-section rates have risen every year to 33 percent of all births in 2009. According to the World Health Organization, the right figure for any country is about 15 percent. The desire to deliver by appointment also prompts doctors to induce labor, for instance by injecting mothers with a hormone or breaking the amniotic sac. Induction rates have doubled over two decades to 23 percent in 2009.

These procedures are sometimes medically necessary — a cesarean, for instance, when the baby is in the breech position, or induction when the baby is more than two weeks overdue. Their elective use, however, has contributed to babies being born too early. From 1990 to 2009, the percentage of U.S. babies delivered at 37 to 38 weeks increased from 19 percent to 27 percent. These newborns aren't technically premature, but a growing body of research shows they are vulnerable. According to a study published last year, children born at 37 weeks are twice as likely to die in their first year as those born at 40 weeks. They have significantly more health problems as well.

These complications tax the health system. Weak newborns often wind up in neonatal intensive care units, which can cost $2,500 a day. Even when all goes well, a cesarean section, because it is surgery, costs 60 percent more than a vaginal delivery, averaging $24,300 versus $15,200.

As hospitals and insurers struggle to contain expenses, a confluence of interests emerges. By reducing elective birth interventions, providers and insurers can cut costs while mothers and newborns achieve better health.

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  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

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    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
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  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

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    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

      The company reported this week that sales of its sleek, pricey tablet were down 19 percent from last quarter and 9 percent year-over-year. CEO Tim Cook tried to reassure investors that Apple's new partnership with IBM to sell its devices to IBM's corporate customers will help make iPads ubiquitous in the workplace. "This isn't something that worries us," he said of the iPad sales decline. But the numbers are disappointing no matter how you spin them.

    July 24, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

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    July 23, 2014

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