Contact Information

  • Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Gregoire, obstetricians seek to improve newborn health with full-term pregnancies

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2012

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today at a meeting of the Washington State Obstetrical Association, highlighted recommendations and specific steps, found by the Robert Bree Collaborative, that health care practitioners, birthing centers and parents can take to ensure that all babies have the best chance at a healthy start to life.

“As a new grandmother, this issue is very close to my heart,” said Gregoire. “Every parent wants a healthy baby – a child ready to grow, ready to learn, ready to succeed in life. These medical experts tell us that a healthy baby is worth the wait.”

The Robert Bree Collaborative, is a first-in-the-nation panel of clinicians, hospital representatives and employers tasked by the legislature to help solve and identify problems in health care. The Bree Collaborative findings center on improving birth outcomes and avoiding problems that can occur when babies don’t reach full-term before birth.

The findings and recommendations of the Bree Collaborative represent significant research and work in obstetrics done in Washington state and sets goals aimed at improving the health of newborns by:
• Eliminating elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy that are not medically necessary.
• Reducing elective inductions of labor between 39 and 41 weeks while research continues on where the full-term line actually falls.
• Monitoring the number of first-time Cesarean sections and reducing those not justified as medically necessary.

“Babies born at full term have bigger bodies and more body fat for temperature control,” said Dr. Brigit Brock, president-elect of the Washington State Obstetrical Association. “Babies’ brains increase in size by almost a third during the final five weeks. Full-term babies also have decidedly bigger and more developed ears, lungs and eyes, and they are able to suck and swallow for better feeding. These differences at birth give babies a head start on a healthy life. Our state is a leader in reducing elective inductions and preterm birth rates.”

The report also focuses on the unexplained rate of increase in C-sections and elective C-sections. The Bree Collaborative recommends that women and their providers fully discuss all of their options and make decisions on the basis of health-based evidence, safety and medical necessity.

More than 85,000 births occur in Washington state each year in 69 hospitals, midwife-attended birth centers or in family homes – roughly half of which are paid by the state’s Medicaid program. When implemented, the Bree Collaborative recommendations will save an estimated $7 million in Medicaid costs.

The Bree Collaborative is named in memory of Dr. Robert Bree, who promoted the use of evidence-based health practice guidelines.