Dr. F. Gary Cunningham, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says statistical reports show the rate of Caesarian section deliveries has increased in the United States from 5 percent in 1970 to nearly a one-third of all births in 2008.
About one-third of U.S. hospitals and half of physicians do not even offer a vaginal birth after a Caesarean section as an option, in part due to fear of potential litigation, Cunningham says.
Cunningham, who led a National Institutes of Health panel on the topic last year, says since the panel's findings were released last July, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists revised its recommendations to encourage clinicians and hospitals to improve women's access to in-hospital vaginal birth after a Caesarean section.
"The latest recommendations released are much more permissive," Cunningham says in a statement. "Women should be aware that in many cases vaginal birth is an option to be considered."