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Celebrate National Public Health Week: April 7-14, 2014

Posted on 13 Mar 2014

Thanksgiving Family 2013
For nearly two decades, public health professionals have united 
communities nationwide each April to celebrate National Public
Health Week. Every year, NPHW uses a unique theme to explore 
and share health with our communities. While the theme may 
change from year to year, our core commitment to public health 
and prevention has remained unchanged. NPPW 2014 will take place
from April 7–13 with the theme, "Public Health: Start Here."
The public health system that keeps our communities healthy and
safe is changing as technologies advance, public attitudes toward
health shift and more health and safety options become available 
through policy changes such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 
Public health professionals and organizations are the key to 
empowering people to participate in this exciting evolution of 
the public health system to improve the health and wellness of 
the whole community. 

NPPW 2014 breaks down these changes into daily themes that are 
easy to understand and navigate. Local NPPW events and activities 
will raise awareness of the critical role that public health and 
prevention play in keeping communities healthy.
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Monday, April 7: Be healthy from the start. From maternal health and
school nutrition to emergency preparedness, health starts at home.
Tuesday, April 8: Don’t panic. Disaster preparedness starts with 
community-wide commitment and action. We’re here to help you weather 
the unexpected.
Wednesday, April 9: Get out ahead. Prevention is now a nationwide
priority. Let us show you where you fit in.
Thursday, April 10: Eat well. The system that keeps our nation’s food 
safe and healthy is complex. We can guide you through the choices.
Friday, April 11: Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best 
practices for community health come from around the globe. We'd like 
to share them with you.
The NPHW 2014 toolkit includes materials and resources to help you 
effectively shape and promote activities and key messages during the 
week. The toolkit will help you engage your communities with health 
and prevention during National Public Health Week 2014 and beyond.
http://www.nphw.org

Early Deliveries Fine for FedEx and UPS – Not So Much for Babies!

Posted on 07 Mar 2014

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When it comes to the time spent in the womb, letting nature take its course is best for most babies and mothers! The Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed organization that tracks hospital safety and quality, published data last week that showed a national decrease in the rate of deliveries before 39 weeks without a medical reason – from 17% in 2010 to 4.6 percent in 2013! We began collecting this data from hospitals nationwide as part of patient-safety efforts under the affordable Care Act.

Potential complications from early elective deliveries (those scheduled for the convenience of doctors, hospital or mothers) may include more cesarean section deliveries, as well as infant breathing and feeding problems, infections, or even death. The rate of infant deaths in the first year rises by 50% for those early births compared to babies who reach full term (39 to nearly 41 weeks).  Each week of pregnancy increases the likelihood of delivering a healthy baby.

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Unnecessary early deliveries are estimated to increase health care costs by as much as $1 billion annually. Some health insurers have stopped paying for early elective deliveries and many hospitals have adopted “hard stop” policies that ban doctors from scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks without a medical reason. The Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) has taken a more proactive role to assure that babies in Illinois are born healthy.  Partnering with the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, CBS2 Chicago, March of Dimes, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, MBGH is working in Chicago and other parts of Illinois to support adoption of preterm birth policies and programs by hospitals, employers, and health plans. According to Larry Boress, President and CEO of MBGH, the main goal is to reduce the number of early elective deliveries in Illinois below the national average.

Funded by United Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MBGH created a community action plan and built the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative to implement: 1) a standard, statewide performance data infrastructure that publicly reports results; 2) adoption of elective delivery policies aligned with best practices by every maternity hospital; and 3) payment reform that aligns financial incentives with best practice and full term births.

CalendarMBGH’s communications campaign highlights the importance of full term births and uses employer/health plan communications, television and the internet, and to reach women in the community, those covered by employer/health plan benefits, and physicians and hospitals providing maternity care. A toolkit of programs, materials and policies to reduce early elective deliveries in a covered population is being developed for employers. Being early isn’t always the best advice, especially when you are carrying precious cargo!

For more information:

The Leapfrog Group. (2014). Leapfrog Group Cautions Against Babies Being Born Too Soon, Hits National Target.  http://www.leapfroggroup.org/policy_leadership/leapfrog_news/5164214

C. Terhune. Rate of babies delivered early at U.S. hospitals drops sharply. LA Times, March 2, 2014. http://lat.ms/1fLzAvQ

Midwest Business Group on Health. Preventing Early Elective Deliveries – Implementation Phase. http://www.mbgh.org/newitem4/communityintitiativesoverview/newitem1