The rate of caesarean delivery continues to rise and steps are needed to reverse the trend, a new study finds.From 1996 to 2007 in the US the rate of caesarean delivery climbed by more than 50%, and "one in three first-time mothers are now being delivered by caesarean delivery," lead researcher Dr Jun Zhang, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said.
In addition, more women than ever before are having repeat C-section deliveries and the rate of medically induced deliveries is high.
"We found that 44% of women who attempt vaginal delivery have their labour induced," said Zhang, who is a senior investigator in the institute's Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research. "In this [induced] group the C-section rate is twice as high as women who have spontaneous labour."
He also noted that many cesarean deliveries were done at an early stage of labour, before the women even had a chance to spontaneously deliver.
The report is published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
C-sections carry risks
Like any surgery, C-section comes with risks, explained Dr Salih Yasin, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"First, caesarean section is not just having a baby; it is having a baby through major surgery. So there is a chance of bleeding, infections and longer healing and recovery," said Yasin, who was not involved in the new study. There are also the long-term effects of repeated caesareans on the uterus. "You end up having many more cases of caesarean-related hysterectomies and transfusion and maternal death," he said.
While these consequences make up only a small percent of cases, "we are noticing an almost 10-times increase of those significant complications," Yasin said. "We need to make sure we are doing this surgery to the right patient for the reason - the right timing for the long-term health of the patient," he added.
In the new study, researchers working with the Consortium on Safe Labor collected data on cesarean delivery throughout the United States using data from almost 229,000 electronic medical records from 19 hospitals.