PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — First Lady Linda Daugaard says all 24 birthing hospitals in South Dakota have signed onto a pledge to help reduce early elective deliveries.

Daugaard says the last few weeks of pregnancy are important to a child's development because organs such as the brain and lungs are still growing. She says the eyes and ears are also still developing.

Early elective deliveries occur prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy for reasons that are not medical.

Earlier this year, Daugaard and North Dakota First Lady Betsy Dalrymple issued a challenge to birthing hospitals in the Dakotas to pledge to reduce early elective deliveries.

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