The rate of early elective deliveries at U.S. hospitals dropped for the third year in a row in 2013 and now stands at 4.6 percent, according to data released Monday by The Leapfrog Group.
The rates in Pennsylvania, at 3.6 percent, and New Jersey, at 4.0, were among the lowest in the country.
In recent years, health officials along with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increasingly advocated against early elective deliveries — which encompass inductions or cesarean procedures performed prior to 39 completed weeks of gestation without medical necessity -- because such procedures can result in higher rates of NICU admissions, health risks to mothers and babies, increased length of stay, and higher costs to patients and payers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has advised against such deliveries for more than 30 years. Read more about this story on PBJ.com.