USF Magazine Summer 2013

Volume 55 | Number 2


Study Delivers Good News

| Florida Hospital Tampa

A national March of Dimes program to reduce unnecessary early deliveries is proving highly effective.

USF Health faculty were among the authors of a national study in which the rate of elective early-term deliveries (inductions of labor and Cesarean sections without a medical reason) in 25 participating hospitals fell from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent during the year-long project period — an 83 percent decline.

Experts say that’s good news because babies delivered before full-term (39 to 41 weeks) without a medical reason are at increased risk for health problems including severe respiratory distress, learning disabilities and death.

Florida did even better than the other four states involved in the project, says Dr. William Sappenfield, director of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies at the USF College of Public Health. Sappenfield, co-chair of the March of Dimes prematurity initiative, and Dr. John Curran, associate vice president at USF Health and executive director of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC), were among the study authors.

“The initiative coordinated by the FPQC at USF Health and the Chiles Center reduced the early-term delivery rate in Florida’s pilot hospitals to the same low national study rate of 5 percent, even though those hospitals started the initiative with a substantially higher rate of 38 percent,” says Sappenfield.

The hospital-based initiative focused on the implementation of a toolkit designed to guide changes in early-term delivery practices. The toolkit was developed in California in partnership with March of Dimes.

The study was the first project of a collaborative with perinatal quality improvement advocates from the state health departments, academic health centers, public and private hospitals and March of Dimes chapters from the five most populous states in the country: California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas — states accounting for nearly 40 percent of all births in the United States.

For more information about the FPQC, visit

Back to Health