Elective c-section rates increase based on desire of mothers

Researchers found no benefit to increased incidences of the procedure, raising concern about potential risks.

By Stephen Feller

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Researchers in Germany found in a review of worldwide cesarean section data that occurrence of the procedure has significantly increased because women favor them over vaginal delivery.

They write in a new study that while the reasons women request them are clear, c-sections carry increased risks because of the nature of the procedure.


"Scientific progress, social and cultural changes, and, in particular, legal change have led to a fundamental change in attitudes to cesarean section among patients and doctors," researchers wrote in the study, published in the German Medical Association's journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. "In fact, the consensus around the indications for cesarean section has changed in many countries, now including psycho-social factors such as anxiety about the delivery, or even the mother's wish to have a cesarean section in the absence of any medical indication."

In 1991, 15.1 percent of babies in Germany were born by c-section, a number that increased to 30.7 percent in 2012. This, researchers write, despite the fact that less than 10 percent of the procedures were medically necessary.

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Rates around the world also have increased as Central American mothers have c-sections 31 percent of the time, 32.2 percent in the United States, and overall European rates are around 25 percent.


Researchers wrote that no difference in neonatal outcome was found between elective c-section and vaginal delivery, leading them to conclude that many are based on societal factors which may increase the risks of the procedure.

"Scientific advances, social and cultural changes, and medicolegal considerations seem to be the main reasons for the increased acceptibility of cesarean sections. Cesarean section is, however, associated with increased risks to both mother and child. It should only be performed when it is clearly advantageous."

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