Tennessee health officials are warning pregnant women against inducing labor to ensure their baby is born on New Year’s Day. The state Department of Health says inducing labor to make the delivery date fall on a special day can cause birth defects.
Doctor Michael Warren is head of the department's maternal and child health. He says babies born earlier are at risk for respiratory distress, jaundice, hypoglycemia and other conditions. Thirty-nine weeks of gestation is the recommended time for most women.
Tennessee has joined 47 other states in a pledge to lower the rate of premature births by eight percent by 2014. Prematurity is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the state, and about one out of every eight Tennessee infants were born premature in 2010.