Require Hospitals to Educate Parents on Care of Infants Born Early
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To Members of the New York State Assembly,
The following petition is a collection of signatures urging you to update, vote on and pass NYS Assembly Bill A00399.
An amendment to the public health law, which will add a section known as 2803-v. This section will mandate a simple, common sense improvement in care provided to preterm infants and their families. According to the bill text found on the NYS Assembly website, A00399 requires any hospital that provides birthing services to provide written educational material containing vital information regarding care of infants born before full term. This written information is intended for the parents or caregivers of the premature infant and includes, “The unique health issues affecting infants born premature...the proper care needs of premature infants, developmental screenings and monitoring and healthcare services available to premature infants, infectious disease awareness and methods to prevent or minimize infections common to premature infants; and community resources to assist parents and family members with the care and support of premature infants.” The bill also specifies that the information must be written in easy to understand language appropriate for a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and shall be updated every two years for accuracy and relevance.
CURRENT STATE OF THE ISSUE:
1 in every 10 infants born in New York State are born before full term. Many parents do not receive adequate education on regarding health of infants born before 39 weeks gestational age. They may be unaware of increased risk for several factors related to health including increased risk for infection and increased likelihood of developmental delay.
Hospital discharge packets for caregivers can vary widely among hospitals with birthing centers, and often do not contain vital information on children's expected developmental milestones and local resources available to parents, such as Early Intervention.
Early Intervention services including Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy can provide assistance to caregivers by coaching them on how to help their children reach developmental milestones in motor, cognitive, and language development.
Early Intervention Services are drastically underutilized , with between 9-12% of eligible children actually receiving services in 2011.
Caregiver education on availability and importance of these services could potentially encourage parents to take advantage of them by contacting their local resources to get children screened.
REQUESTED UPDATES TO BILL:
In 2013 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed the definition of full term pregnancy to reflect recent evidence regarding development, increasing the length from 37 to 39 weeks. However, despite these recommendations, many hospitals continue to consider 37 weeks full term, and many inconsistencies remain in language used in healthcare environments.
We would also like to advocate for a change in wording of line 7 of the bill text to reflect current evidence, requiring caregivers of any infant born before 39 weeks gestational age to receive the information outlined in bill A00399. This bill was first introduced in 2009, and therefore some of the terms are outdated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists redefined a full-term birth as a pregnancy lasting a minimum of 39 weeks in the year 2013.
Line 7 of Bill A00399 should be updated to include caregivers of all infants born before 39 weeks. The bill text is outdated and currently specifies 37 weeks.
POTENTIAL POSITIVE IMPACT:
Passing A00399 would mandate conformity throughout New York to a universal minimum standard of hospital caregiver education on care of premature infants. This bill also has the potential to reinforce currently accepted guidelines for the age at which a child would be considered born preterm.
Our hope is that through mandating distribution of educational pamphlets that are easy to understand and contain information specific to the county where families live, caregiver awareness of health issues specific to this population will improve. Caregiver calls to programs such as Early Intervention, which has been proven to be effective in helping these infants to gain ground in achieving developmental milestones in step with their peers may also increase as a result of this bill’s passage.
We would like to encourage you to support this bill by considering offering your support if it comes to a vote. We truly believe that with adequate caregiver education on programs and services available to support development, better outcomes are possible for these children.
We thank you for your attention and, more importantly, your action.
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