Caesarean births pose higher risks for mother and baby

October 31, 2007

Women having a non-emergency caesarean birth have double the risk of illness or even death compared to a vaginal birth, according to a study from Latin America published today on British Medical Journal website.

However, the researchers found caesarean delivery prevented deaths in breech born babies.

The risks linked to caesarean births (whether chosen by the woman or her clinicians) are higher, regardless of variables such as demographics, medical and pregnancy history, gestational age of the foetus, pregnancy complications, where the baby is born and the skills of those helping to deliver the baby.

Researchers randomly selected eight Latin American countries and from those, 120 also randomly selected health facilities provided complete data on 97,307 deliveries of babies during a three-month study period. These data came from the Latin American component of the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health, specifically carried out for this study in 2005.

They wanted to compare the risks and benefits of caesarean delivery compared to vaginal delivery. Of the 97,307 cases, 33.7% were caesarean and 66.3% vaginal. Overall, perinatal outcomes were good in these 120 hospitals, not far from those in developed countries.

They found that a woman having a caesarean delivery had twice the risk of illness and mortality (including death, hysterectomy, blood transfusion and admission to intensive care) as a woman having a vaginal delivery.

There was a five times higher risk of having to have antibiotic treatment after birth for women who had a caesarean delivery (elective or decided by clinicians) than those who had a vaginal delivery.

Risk of having to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit for newborn babies who were born head-first was doubled after a caesarean delivery compared to a vaginal birth.

The authors also found that the risk of neonatal death was also significantly increased (more than 70% higher) up to hospital discharge for babies who were born head first from both an elective and a clinician chosen caesarean delivery, compared to a vaginal delivery.

However, caesarean delivery had a large protective effect in preventing foetal deaths in cases of breech born babies and reduced overall risks in those cases.

The authors conclude that there are no net benefits from the very liberal use of caesarean delivery on maternal and neonatal outcomes, both at the institutional or individual level, and it can do harm. The exceptions are fewer postpartum severe vaginal complications, and better foetal outcomes among breech presentations.”

An accompanying editorial says that more accurate estimates of probabilities from other populations are needed to support informed childbirth choices.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Fever during labor may present risk to mother

Related Stories

Fever during labor may present risk to mother

September 28, 2017
Intrapartum fever—fever that occurs during labor—occurs in approximately 1-2% of deliveries and is often associated with maternal and neonatal complications. But the precise reasons for the fever and its different outcomes ...

Study reveals costs of maternal health

August 10, 2017
New research from The Australian National University (ANU) has for the first time identified and quantified the factors pushing up maternal health costs in the New South Wales public hospital system, paving the way for better ...

Early guidance can help future moms fight fear of childbirth

September 20, 2017
Caesarean deliveries in most developed countries, including Canada, are at least 10 to 20 per cent higher than recommended by the World Health Organization, and many efforts to decrease unnecessary C-sections have failed. ...

Caesarean babies are more likely to become overweight as adults

February 26, 2014
Babies born by caesarean section are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, according to a new analysis.

Is China's 50 percent cesarean section delivery rate too high?

August 20, 2014
Efforts must be made to decrease China's increasing caesarean section rate, suggests a new commentary published today (20 August) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).

Vaginal delivery doubles the risk of stress incontinence compared to cesarean section

February 23, 2016
Stress and urgency incontinence are the two most frequent and the most bothersome urinary symptoms among women. It has been estimated that about twelve percent of women report significant bother from stress incontinence and ...

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.