Most babies who die before their first birthday are born more than eight weeks early. In fact, 75 percent of infant deaths in the U.S. in 2014 were babies who were born too early, and preterm birth remains the single biggest factor affecting infant mortality in Cincinnati.
But those deaths were reduced dramatically this year thanks to a study led by the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC). Through this, the rate of premature births was slashed by 20 percent for Ohio women insured by Medicaid who were part of a progesterone study. Progesterone is a medication that decreases early premature birth. TriHealth physician, Michael P. Marcotte, MD was a lead on the project as one of four obstetric advisers.
"By implementing evidence-based interventions like progesterone supplementation, more women have a chance to carry their babies to full term and reduce the risk of the infant dying before their first birthday," Dr. Marcotte says.
Before this work, finding and treating pregnant women with the highest risk of premature birth was hampered by gaps in insurance coverage, miscommunication among providers and confusing treatment protocols for progesterone.
"TriHealth delivers more babies than any other health system in this part of the state," Dr. Marcotte says. "Our involvement in OPQC allows us to use state of the art, evidence-informed practices to achieve our goal of delivering more healthy babies at full term."
With Dr. Marcotte at the forefront, the learnings from the project will be applied to prenatal practices in every hospital system in greater Cincinnati this year as part of the Cradle Cincinnati Learning Collaborative.
"This is tremendously important work," said Ryan Adcock, Executive Director of Cradle Cincinnati. "As we work to lower infant mortality, reducing the number of babies who are born too soon is the most impactful thing we can do as a community. Now, thanks to the work of OPQC, we have a promising roadmap to make a difference."
OPQC is an alliance of perinatal doctors, hospitals, and policy makers that works to reduce preterm births and improve birth outcomes in Ohio. The results of the Progesterone Project are reported in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the journal of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.