The number of caesarean deliveries rose sharply in China this week as mothers rushed to give birth before the deadline for school enrollment, state media and local governments said Thursday.
August 31 is the cut-off day marking the legal age children can enter school in China, meaning those born after that date must wait another year to begin their schooling.
No nationwide figures were available, but hospitals around the country reported sharp increases and local media in the southern province of Fujian reported a rise of more than 50 percent in one municipality.
"Since last week the numbers of (caesarean) operations has gone up," Fu Jiahong, director of maternity at a hospital in Chengdu, capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, said on the news website of Internet company QQ.
"Every year it is like this. Many women want their children to go to school as early as possible."
Chinese families place tremendous importance on the education of their children and push them to attain high marks from an early age.
In Zhanjiang city in eastern China's Jiangsu province, a major hospital reported 30 caesarian births between August 29-31, compared to 12 natural births, the local newspaper said.
In Jinan, the capital of neighbouring Shandong province, 129 caesarians were reported in the city's main maternity hospital from August 22-30, the local government said on its website.
A caesarean, or C-section, is a surgical procedure often used only when a natural birth could endanger either the mother or baby.
However, nearly half of all babies in China are now delivered by caesarean section, the world's highest rate, according to a survey by the World Health Organisation.
Mothers in China can opt to have a caesarean regardless of their medical status.