More hospitals cut obstetrics as deliveries decline

Hospitals in New Hampshire and across the U.S. have stopped delivering babies amid decreased demand, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Four things to know:

1. A study by researchers from the University of Minnesota found 9 percent of rural U.S. counties lost all hospital obstetric services between 2004 and 2014. They also found another 45 percent of rural U.S. counties lacked any hospital obstetric services during that period. Researchers said this means more than half of all rural U.S. counties didn't have hospital obstetric services. According to the report, more women gave birth prematurely or in emergency settings after these counties lost obstetric services.

2. New Hampshire hospitals are among the U.S. hospitals that have eliminated obstetric services. Most recently, Laconia, N.H.-based LRGHealthcare announced in February it would close the maternity unit at Lakes Region General Hospital, also in Laconia, partially due to a decline in the number of deliveries. The closure did not affect prenatal, postnatal, women's health and pediatric care. Mothers may still travel to Concord (N.H.) Hospital to deliver babies. Lebanon, N.H.-based Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in February also announced it would close its maternity ward and transition those inpatient services to Lebanon-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

3. Overall, at least seven New Hampshire hospitals have eliminated obstetric services in the last two decades, according to the report. At the same time, the number of births in New Hampshire hospitals fell 8 percent between 2010 and 2017, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports, citing data from the state Vital Records Administration.

4. New Hampshire is not alone. Mesa View Regional Hospital, the only hospital in Mesquite, Nev., announced last month it would stop providing labor and delivery services Oct. 1. At least three other hospitals and health systems made similar announcements this year.

Access the full New Hampshire Union Leader report here.



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