Scientists expect C-section rate to keep rising

Aug 30, 2010 By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- More women will be giving birth by C-section for the foreseeable future, government scientists said Monday, releasing a study into the causes of a trend that troubles maternal health experts.

Overall, cesarean deliveries account for about a third of births in the U.S. While much attention has recently focused on women having repeat C-sections, researchers with the National Institutes of Health found that nearly one third of first-time moms delivered by cesarean.

That is "somewhat surprising," said Dr. Jun Zhang, lead author of a study that looked at nearly 230,000 deliveries in 19 hospitals around the country. "It has consequences for future pregnancies," he added, since many doctors and hospitals follow a policy of "once a cesarean, always a cesarean."

The study also suggested a link between chemically induced labor and higher likelihood of a C-section. Women whose labor was induced were twice as likely to have a cesarean. The authors said more research is needed to clarify if there's a cause-and-effect relationship.

Many medical experts consider to be a major component of "overtreatment" in the U.S. - procedures and tests that provide little or no benefit while subjecting patients to additional risks. Indeed, new clinical recommendations say vaginal birth is safe for most women who've had a first C-section.

But the trend does not appear likely to reverse. Since the mid-1990s, the C-section rate in the U.S. has increased by more than 50 percent.

How low should it be? In Scandinavian countries it hovers in the 20 percent range, with no evidence of ill-effects for mothers or babies, Zhang said. How high can it go? In some countries 60 percent to 70 percent of babies are now delivered surgically.

"I hope that we won't get there," said Zhang. "The upward trajectory seems likely to continue in the near future."

Explaining the increase in C-sections is no simple matter. The study found a variety of reasons, some related, including heavier moms and babies, women later in life, an increase the number of twins and multiple births, and evidence that doctors may be opting for a cesarean if encounter difficulties in the early stages of labor.

One factor that made no difference was whether the mother had private health insurance or was covered through a government program like Medicaid.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Explore further: Teen vaccinations up but HPV coverage remains low overall

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New guidelines aim to reduce repeated C-sections

Jul 21, 2010

(AP) -- Most women who've had a C-section, and many who've had two, should be allowed to try labor with their next baby, say new guidelines - a step toward reversing the "once a cesarean, always a cesarean" policies taking ...

Survey: Half of China's moms-to-be have C-sections

Jan 12, 2010

(AP) -- Nearly half of moms-to-be surveyed in China were delivering by cesarean sections, the world's highest rate recorded by the World Health Organization, which warned Tuesday that a boom in unnecessary surgeries is jeopardizing ...

Recommended for you

Preterm children's brains can catch up years later

1 hour ago

There's some good news for parents of preterm babies – latest research from the University of Adelaide shows that by the time they become teenagers, the brains of many preterm children can perform almost as well as those ...

Mortality rates increase due to extreme heat and cold

1 hour ago

Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that death rates rise in association with extremely hot weather. The heat wave in Western Europe in the summer of 2003, for example, resulted in about 22,000 extra deaths. A team ...

It takes more than practice to excel, psychologist reports

2 hours ago

Case Western Reserve University's new assistant professor of psychology Brooke N. Macnamara, PhD, and colleagues have overturned a 20-year-old theory that people who excel in their fields are those who practiced the most.

User comments : 0