39 Weeks to Healthier Babies

October 01, 2012

Not long ago, convenience-driven deliveries of babies at 37 or 38 weeks’ gestation was common.

Not anymore.

Citing a study that revealed potential harm from elective, early deliveries, James Danielzadeh, M.D., chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, says all five Southern California Providence medical centers adopted a “39­week rule” two years ago.

“Before 39 weeks, sometimes there are problems with readiness to live outside the womb,” Dr. Danielzadeh says. Providence now delivers after at least 39 weeks’ gestation unless medical necessity dictates otherwise.

As a result, Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance NICU nurse Lori Delgado, R.N., says admissions of infants with respiratory distress at 37 and 38 weeks’ gestation are down. “The 39-week rule results in lower NICU admissions, no separation of mom and baby, and better bonding and breastfeeding,” she says.

Jeffrey Hartleroad, M.D., NICU medical director at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, says the “39-week rule” exemplifies the strength of Providence. “We all work together to improve care and make sure we’re on the same page,” he says.

Of course, if your little bundle of joy is born needing NICU care, Providence offers Level III NICUs in Tarzana, Mission Hills, Burbank and Torrance, which is home to the first single-family NICU in Los Angeles County.