Sutter Roseville aims to reduce early elective deliveries

Babies born earlier than 39 weeks are more likely to have difficulties
By: Staff Report
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Baby Dalton now healthy

Cassie and Erik Angle went from being overjoyed parents-to-be to overwhelmed upon learning their unborn son would need intestinal surgery immediately after birth to survive.

Dalton arrived a month early, delivered at the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, on Jan. 6. He was a normal baby on the outside, but on the inside, he needed critical medical help. During his development, Dalton had no blood flow to his intestines in key locations, causing blockages.

The following day, Dr. Joy Graf and a team of surgical experts performed an eight-hour surgery to remove the blockages, which was successful. But Dalton would need to be carefully monitored in the NICU, where he would be fed by tubes in his stomach and intestines.

Dalton would also need a second surgery for repair work. If this surgery failed, he’d have to live with external feeding and drainage tubes. 

Dalton remained in NICU through March 19, undergoing the second surgery on March 9, which was deemed successful, and he was soon ready to go home. He is now 15 months old and healthy.

His parents, grateful for the support they received from medical staff, give back through Erik Angle’s participation in the annual Sacramento March of Dimes Walk on Saturday, April 27. Funds raised benefit local programs to help mothers have healthy pregnancies and fund research to find answers to serious problems that threaten babies.

 “It’s fantastic seeing how healthy Dalton is,” Erik Angle said in a press release. “Just a few years ago, the surgery performed on Dalton did not exist. He would not have survived without the constant developments in infant and pediatric care and medicine. We are very lucky and very grateful parents.”

~ Staff report


A recently published nationwide study shows that hospital-based quality improvement programs can be effective at reducing early elective deliveries of babies.

The study, to be published in the May issue of the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, was piloted by Sutter Roseville Medical Center and 24 other hospitals nationwide. Babies delivered before full-term are at an increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life, according to the March of Dimes, which partly funded the initiative.

Elective early term deliveries refer to inductions of labor and Caesarean sections without a medical reason. The study found that the rate of these deliveries at participating hospitals fell from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent during the one-year project period, which is an 83 percent decline.

“This quality improvement program demonstrates that we can create a change in medical culture to prevent unneeded early deliveries and give many more babies a healthy start in life,” said Dr. Bryan Oshiro, of Loma Linda University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

Pregnancy has traditionally been thought of as a nine-month process, and many mothers erroneously added up the number of weeks to 36. But a full-term pregnancy is actually 40 weeks.

Babies born earlier than 39 weeks are more likely to have difficulties with feeding because they can’t coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing; have a higher chance of breathing problems; and can have more learning and behavior challenges in childhood, according William Gilbert, M.D., medical director of Sutter Women’s Services for Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region.  

The final weeks of pregnancy is when many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing. But the March of Dimes noticed a disturbing trend in the 2000s showing that doctors and midwives were allowing early deliveries for non-medical reasons on a more frequent basis, according to a press release.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines state that if a pregnancy is healthy, an expectant mother should wait for labor to begin on its own. Sutter Health hospitals implemented a toolkit to guide changes in early term delivery practices. It can be downloaded free from the Prematurity Prevention Resource Center at