Contact Media Relations 614-293-3737

January 31, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In an effort to combat infant mortality and improve outcomes for women with the highest risk of early premature birth, the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Health partnered with the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC), a voluntary quality improvement network dedicated to advancing perinatal health in Ohio.

According to the March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, babies born more than two months premature account for more than half of all infant deaths in Ohio, which ranks among states with the highest rates of premature births and infant mortality.

“The goal of our project is reduce premature births in Ohio by 10 percent by assuring that progestogen supplementation therapy is available for every woman at risk,” said Dr. Jay Iams, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and obstetrics clinical lead of OPQC.

The project led to a 20 percent reduction in premature births before 32 weeks of gestation for Ohio women insured by Medicaid. Results are reported in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the journal of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. 

“The reduction in early premature births we saw during this project is very encouraging,” Iams said. “Every pregnant woman should ask her prenatal caregiver about her risk of premature birth so that, if needed, preventive treatment can begin as soon as possible.”

OPQC was founded in 2007 to conduct statewide projects in Ohio aimed at assuring optimal care for pregnant women and their newborn infants.  Previous successful projects led to fewer infections in premature newborns and a significant decline in scheduled births before 39 weeks of pregnancy that lacked a medical indication.

Beginning in 2014, OPQC worked for 26 months with prenatal care clinics at 20 large maternity hospitals, Ohio Medicaid and Medicaid insurers to improve care coordination among prenatal care providers, pharmacies and home healthcare services. The network identified 2,562 women who had a previous early premature birth and accelerated preventive treatment. 

Clinicians and quality improvement experts throughout Ohio participated in the project, which is now being disseminated to all Ohio prenatal clinics and providers.

Funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Health supports this ongoing research.

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Contact: Sherri Kirk, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737, or Sherri.Kirk@osumc.edu.