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Increase in Preemie Births Linked to C-Sections

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, May 29, 2008 6:00 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Preterm Babies, SIDS, C-Section, Medical Malpractice

The increase in the birth of premature babies is largely suspected to be due to C-sections.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ premature baby in incubator, Iraq, September 2004/ U.S. Agency for International Development 


In recent years, premature births in the United States have been on the rise, and a new report finds Caesarean sections are likely to blame for a vast majority of the babies being born before 40 weeks, or full-term.

This is the first in-depth study to be done on these two rapidly increasing problems.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), March of Dimes, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, cooperated on the report.

Together they looked at national birth data from 1996 to 2004 and discovered an increase of nearly 60,000 preterm births of single babies, 92% of which were delivered by C-section.

While single-baby preterm births increased about ten percent over the nine-year period, researchers found the C-section rate for the group increased 36 percent overall.

The medical records used to compile study data typically did not give a reason for the C-sections, and the researchers could only speculate about causes.

Preterm birth – delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy – increases the risk of death in the first month of life.

Over 520,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year – that’s one in eight. Prematurity, especially those babies born sooner than 34 weeks, are associated with a wide host of health problems that include delays in development, neurological problems, increased mortality and lower IQs.

While there are many medical reasons to induce, Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director and senior vice president of the March of Dimes suspects the “convenience factor, non-medically indicated reasons maybe part of the problem at hand.”

Experts have long suspected that the rise in C-sections was likely linked to an increase in preterm births. The new challenge facing researchers is sorting out when C-sections are done for true medical indications, such as preeclampsia, from those based on “convenience.”

Women requesting C-sections before 39 weeks, not based on medical necessity, need to understand that babies born prematurely are at risk for a broad spectrum of health problems.

The research is published in the June issue of Clinics of Perinatology. #

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