Pregnant women considering inducing labor to have a New Year's Day baby may want to reconsider. The Tennessee Department of Health warns that inducing labor to make the delivery date arrive more quickly for special days, such as holidays or birthdays, can cause birth defects.
Dr. 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.
He says 39 weeks of gestation is the recommended time for most women.
Tennessee has joined 47 other states in a pledge to lower the rate of prematurity by eight percent by 2014. Prematurity is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in Tennessee.
In 2010, about one out of every eight infants in Tennessee was born premature.