Valley Perinatal and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center significantly lower extreme pre-term births

Valley Perinatal Services today announced that as a result of the leadership of its perinatologist, Dr. Ravi Gunatilake, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center was able to decrease the number of extreme pre-term births by 43 percent in the second half of 2016.

Births before 28 weeks of pregnancy are known as extreme pre-term births and have only a 70 percent survival rate. Those babies who do survive often experience serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, or other serious lifelong conditions. Delaying birth until at least 28 weeks significantly increases the baby’s chances of survival and decreases the risk of these disabilities.

“This is incredibly important work,” added Deb Krmpotic, chief executive officer of Banner Thunderbird. “The closer to full-term that a baby can deliver, the better it is for the baby, so we’re incredibly pleased to see these kind of results from our combined efforts.”

Dr. Gunatilake stepped into the role of medical director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Program at Banner Thunderbird in July, and immediately began using methodologies from Dr. John Elliott, the pioneer in creating protocols designed to lower pre-term delivery.

“We worked collaboratively with the team at Banner Thunderbird to train them on implementing our protocols,” said Dr. Gunatilake. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the achievement of this milestone for mothers and babies.”

The chances of pre-term delivery can sometimes be hard to predict, but women with certain infections, shortened cervix, or those with a history of pre-term delivery are at greater risk.

“Our team helps high-risk expectant mothers achieve the best possible outcome,” said Dr. John Elliott, medical director of Valley Perinatal Services. “The fact that we can help so many mothers, who come to us scared and with little hope, speaks to the effectiveness of our program.”

Dr. Elliott founded Valley Perinatal Services in 2013. Dr. Gunatilake joined in May 2015 after serving as medical director of Obstetrical Services at the University of Oklahoma where he was recognized for improving obstetrical quality and safety. Dr. Gunatilake views the nine months of pregnancy as the “window of opportunity” for mothers to positively impact their babies.