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Houston Medical Center Recognized for its Work to Give Babies a Healthy Start in Life



Houston Medical Center has been awarded Georgia’s 39 Weeks recognition banner from the March of Dimes for reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. This will give more babies a healthy start in life, the March of Dimes says. 

This quality improvement program, sponsored by the March of Dimes, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), Georgia Hospital Association, and Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, asks all obstetric hospitals in Georgia to sign a pledge to implement firm policies to reduce early elective deliveries and support ongoing efforts to reduce Georgia’s infant mortality rate. The program encourages hospitals to adopt the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines to not induce labor or perform cesarean sections before 39 weeks gestation without a medical reason. 

In order to receive banner recognition, hospitals have to have clear policies in place to prevent early elective deliveries, plus demonstrate data that shows their rate is 5 percent or less. 

“We’re proud of our skilled team of physicians and nurses who recognized this problem and put policies in place to avoid scheduling elective inductions or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Cary Martin, Chief Executive Officer for Houston Healthcare. “We also provide childbirth education classes to expectant families in our community. By offering these classes, we are adding another layer of education for mothers and their support system about the importance of a healthy pregnancy and proper maternal care.” 

“The pledge is a testament to the commitment of Georgia’s birthing hospitals and health care providers to promote healthier pregnancies and babies in our state,” stated Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “Through the March of Dimes’ banner program, we will continue the important work of reducing prematurity by avoiding early elective deliveries – allowing babies the best shot at life and good health, by allowing their little bodies and organs to fully develop before coming into the world.” 

“The last weeks of pregnancy are important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs.” shared Scott Berns, MD, MPH, senior vice president and deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. “I commend Houston Medical Center for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.” 

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births.  Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities. 

Through Strong Start, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes has been getting out the word that “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait.” The campaign urges women to wait for labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy, rather than scheduling delivery before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Houston Medical Center
1601 Watson Boulevard
Warner Robins, Georgia 31093
Telephone: (478) 922-4281


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Perry Hospital
1120 Morningside Drive
Perry, Georgia 31069
Telephone: (478) 987-3600

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