All-Time High Cesarean Section Rate Causing Concern
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 Ohio medical malpractice attorney who can assess your case. A medical malpractice lawyer understands birth injury litigation and has access to medical experts.