Dec 7, 2012 by APRIL McCARTHY
25 Percent of Births Are Now Delivered Via Caesarean Section: Why You Should Think Twice
"Schedule her for C-Sec," said the OB/GYN. An increasing number of women, including many first-time mothers, are requesting a C-section, even when it's not medically necessary. Older mothers are partly behind the number of C-sections rising, however the problem is more related to convenience rather than age. The latest maternity figures show that 25 percent of mothers had the surgery--an alarming trend which has many drawbacks for both mother and child.
Older mothers are more inclined to have an elective C section - with 18 percent over the age of 35 opting not to give birth naturally.
One in 10 mothers aged 25 to 34 had the elective surgery with just five percent of those under 25 giving birth by caesarean, according to the hospital data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
The Royal College of Midwives has raised concerns about the figures.
Louise Silverton, the RCM's director for midwifery, said: 'That means that one in four women giving birth is having a caesarean, which is a major surgical procedure.
'There has also been a rise in the number of elective caesareans while the number of emergency caesareans has remained stable. Questions must be asked as to what the driver is behind this increase in elective surgery.
'An increase in caesarean rates and instrumental deliveries often reflects a decrease in involvement with midwives, and this concerns me.'
Unhealthy For Mother and Baby
A Danish study examining 34,000 deliveries suggests babies born by C-section were up to four times more likely to have respiratory problems than those born naturally.
Newborns delivered by caesarean may miss out on critical bacterial molecules that help their gut grow healthily--something that seems to be effectively accomplished through vaginal births.
A recent study also showed that caesarean born babies are also at double the risk of becoming obese children as those delivered naturally.
Infants who are delivered by C-section may have an increased risk of developing food allergies, according to a new report published in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Women who have their first child by caesarean are also more likely to have placenta-related problems in their second pregnancy, research suggests. A Caesarean section increases the risk by 50-fold that a woman's uterus will rupture during a subsequent vaginal delivery, research suggests.
Women who give birth by caesarean section take longer on average to become pregnant again, according to the results of a large British study
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.
Yale School of Medicine researchers found that protein expression is impaired in the brains of offspring delivered by C-sections.
This area of the brain is responsible for short- and long-term memory. UCP2 is involved in cellular metabolism of fat, which is a key component of breast milk, suggesting that induction of UCP2 by natural birth may aid the transition to breast feeding.
The researchers found that natural birth triggered UCP2 expression in the neurons located in the hippocampal region of the brain.
This was diminished in the brains of mice born via C-section. Knocking out the UCP2 gene or chemically inhibiting UCP2 function interfered with the differentiation of hippocampal neurons and circuits, and impaired adult behaviors related to hippocampal functions.
"There are doctors who argue vehemently against any surgery that is not medically necessary, as well as those who see nothing wrong with a surgery that can, in many instances, help a patient avoid certain labor and delivery-related traumas," says Dr. Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs for HealthGrades, a Denver-based consumer watchdog agency.
In the United States American women have elected C-sections more than almost every other country in the world. From 2000 to 2010, the rate of such births increased more than 50 percent in 20 states.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued an opinion designed to help a doctor guide the thought processes for C-sections and other surgeries. The gist: If a doctor believes a C-section would promote the overall health of the woman and her fetus more than a vaginal birth, the doctor is ethically justified in performing it. But if the physician believes performing it would be detrimental, the doctor can refrain from performing it. If the patient still wants a C-section, the physician should refer her to another doctor. However, this rarely happens due to the interests of the both the doctor and hospital and well as convenience and rapid escalation of outpatient status.
Women need to be fully informed of all the risks of C-sections to their health and that of their newborn child before making the decision.
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.