Cesarean Section, the most common form of surgery in the United States,
accounted for more than 1.4 million operations in 2007 A third of all
babies in the U.S. are now delivered by the procedure.
The popularity of the surgery is a cause for concern among many health
care experts. While the operation often provides a safe alternative to
natural birth for both the mother and baby when medical complications
arise, experts question why the surgery is used in situations when there
is no medical imperative for the procedure.
A recent report from the Center for Disease Control shows that because
Cesarean deliveries involve major abdominal surgery, the procedures are
associated with higher rates of surgical complications for the mother
and a higher risk of neonatal intensive care admissions for the infants.
In addition to those serious medical risks, there are bottom-line costs:
hospitals typically charge almost double for a Cesarean delivery compared
to vaginal delivery.
Risks to women increase with each subsequent C-section. The odds that the
uterus will rupture increase with each Cesarean delivery. Repeated Cesarean
operations can make it unfeasible for a woman to have a large family.
Why Are Hospitals and Doctors Increasing Risks for Women and Babies?
There are a variety of factors involved in the answer. Fertility treatments
have caused a rise in multiple births, which often require Cesarean deliveries.
But the CDC’s report notes that C-section rates have risen even
faster for single births than for multiple births.
Another aspect of the rising Cesarean rate is that more older women are
giving birth today and they are more likely to have Cesareans. But the
CDC report notes that C-sections have risen fastest among women under
the age of 25.
Other facets of the rise include convenience: doctors and pregnant women
often schedule a date for delivery and many rely on Cesarean to keep that date.
Another factor, rarely discussed in the medical community is that some
obstetricians, fearing vaginal birth complications, turn to Cesareans
when induced labor fails to produce a birth. Unfortunately, in some cases
doctors are actually raising the risks – rather than reducing the
odds of complications – for the women and babies by relying so heavily
on Cesarean deliveries.
In a poll reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, 29 percent
of obstetricians’ college members said they are performing more
C-sections because of a fear of lawsuits.
Repeat Cesareans are yet another part of the problem. Many hospitals refuse
to allow women who have had a past Cesarean to attempt a vaginal birth
(VBAC); accordingly, repeat Cesareans account for approximately 40 percent
of all C-sections.
A panel recently convened by the National Institutes of Health urges health
care providers to reassess the guidelines that have led to the dramatic
increase in Cesareans.
There’s no consensus on how to lower the rate of Cesareans to a more
reasonable level, but experts agree that the current rate does more harm
than good for women’s health.
If you or your child were harmed by an unnecessary Cesarean section delivery,
contact an Cleveland Medical Malpractice attorney who can assess your case.
A medical malpractice lawyer understands birth injury litigation and has
access to medical experts.