By DENISE GRADY Published: August 30, 2010, The New York Times
A new study suggests several reasons for the nation’s rising Caesarean section rate, including the increased use of drugs to induce labor, the tendency to give up on labor too soon and deliver babies surgically instead of waiting for nature to take its course, and the failure to allow women with previous Caesareans to try to give birth vaginally.
Thirty-two percent of all births in the United States — nearly 1 in 3 — now occur by Caesarean section. The operations have been increasing steadily since 1996, setting records year after year, and have become the most common surgery in American hospitals. About 1.4 million Caesareans were performed in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available. The increases have caused debate and concern.
The concern arises because Caesareans pose a risk of surgical complications and research has found that they are more likely than normal births to cause problems that can put the mother back in the hospital and the infant in intensive care. Risks to the mother also increase with each subsequent Caesarean, because it raises the odds that the uterus will rupture in the next pregnancy, which can seriously harm both the mother and the baby.
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