A new study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reveals that scheduling C-section deliveries for the sake of convenience can increase the risks of babies being born with serious complications. The study, in Thursday’s The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first-large scale examination of the dangers that can arise.
A closer look at over 24,000 full term babies showed that newborns delivered at 37 weeks via elective repeat Caesarean birth were two times more likely as babies born at the recommended 39 weeks of experiencing bloodstream infections, breathing issues, and other complications. Newborns born at 38 weeks had a 50% greater chance of suffering from such complications than babies born at 39 weeks.
Health authorities have expressed concern about the increase in C-section births in the US, which are reportedly at an all-time high. Over 1/3rd of US deliveries are Caesarean births. Different experts have attributed causes for this increase to different reasons. While a C-section birth may be the safest method of delivery for certain newborns and their mothers, there are pregnant women who elect to undergo the procedure for personal reasons. For example, a mother may be ready for the pregnancy to be over or a certain date for delivery may be more convenient than another birth date.
According to the study’s findings:
• Out of the 24,077 repeat Caesarean births between 1999 and 2002, 13,258 of these deliveries were elective, which means there were no medical reason why the C-section deliveries were performed.
• Over 15% of babies that were delivered at 37 weeks experienced health complications, including low blood sugar, breathing difficulties, infections, or other medical issues requiring intensive care.
• 11% of babies delivered at 38 weeks also experienced health complications.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that elective repeat C-sections take place no sooner than when the baby is 39 weeks old to make sure it is fully developed.
It is the job of your ob/gyn, surgeon, primary care physician or any other medical professional charged with your care during your pregnancy and delivery to make sure that you get the best medical attention and advice possible. When failure to provide these duties of care leads to birthing injuries or other complications, you may have grounds to fie a Maryland malpractice malpractice lawsuit.
Study: Early Caesarean Sections Raise Risk of Complications, Washington Post, January 7, 2009
Study: Elective C-section babies born before 39th week face risks, CNN, January 27, 2008
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Contact our Maryland birthing malpractice lawyers to discuss your case.