Report Shows C-section Rates Rising

As the first babies of 2019 are welcomed into the world, a series of recent reports indicates that C-section rates have risen dramatically.

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CLEVELAND – A caesarean section, or ‘C-section’, can save women’s and babies’ lives if there are complications during pregnancy or birth.

However, a recent series of reports indicates that C-section rates have risen dramatically in recent years.

Salena Zanotti, M.D., a women’s health physician at Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the research, said C-sections are a common surgery in many countries around the world, but are especially frequent in the United States.

“In the United States, our C-section rate is extremely high,” said Dr. Zanotti. “About one in three women, on the average, are having a C-section – it’s definitely higher in certain parts of the country and lower in other parts.” 

Dr. Zanotti said there are several reasons for the uptick, one of them being the rise in obesity in the U.S.

She said obese women have an increased risk for C-sections, partly because of their risk for diabetes and due to a higher than average risk for abnormal labor.

Dr. Zanotti said there are many instances when C-sections are necessary. If a baby is not coming down the right way, labor is obstructed, or if there are concerns for the fetal heart-rate or mom’s health, she said a C-section is life-saving.

However, Dr. Zanotti said it’s important to remember that a C-section is a major surgery, and any time there is surgery, it comes with risks such as bleeding, infection or damage to other organs.

She said most healthy women, with a normal body mass index (BMI), can have a C-section without any complications. However, with each subsequent C-section, the risks increase exponentially.

Dr. Zanotti believes each woman should have a conversation with her health care provider about the risks of C-sections.

“I think it’s an individual concern for each person,” she said. “It’s looking at the person’s health history to decide what’s right for them. There are pros and cons to both, but a C-section is still a major surgery and so you have to look at what your long-term reproductive goals are as well.”

Complete results of the research can be found in The Lancet.

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