Discussion about the merits, drawbacks, and concerns related to C-section births continues across the blogosphere this week. Yesterday the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai wrote an editorial in the Huffington Post reiterating the risks of C-section births, particularly for those mothers who have already had one performed. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have long been attuned to these concerns. It is vital that medical caregivers (and expectant mothers) take heed of these warning to ultimately ensure potential complications during delivery and birth injuries are minimized.
The doctor explained that C-section births currently account for just short of 33% of all births in the United States. The number has been rising over the years, but it remained steady for the first time ever in the last two years. While the stall in the increase is encouraging, much more work needs to be done to get the level down to that where it is performed only when absolutely necessary. To keep this decades-long problem into perspective, in 1970 the rate of C-section birth was only 5%. This increase is a problem because, as the chairmen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai noted, “despite the rise in the number of C-sections, there is no evidence that it has improved the health of mothers or babies.” In fact, as our birth injury lawyers have pointed out recently, there has been an increase in the number of maternal deaths in recent years.
After noting that there are many different reasons for the increase, one disturbing factor is that there has been a shortage of vaginal births after C-sections. These procedures, known as VBACs, have lost fashion in the medical community under the idea that “once a C-section, always a C-section.” Right now only 8% of the women who have had a C-section once give birth vaginally afterwards. C-section births are inherently more risky than vaginal births, because they come with the potential for surgical complications otherwise not present in vaginal births.
The story’s author notes that those VBAC rates are far lower than they need to be. Those medical facilities that prioritize VBACs have been able to safely increase the rate from 8% to 35%. In the past research has suggested that there are increased risks of certain birth injuries (such as uterine rupture) when woman have VBACs. Obviously those concerns must be taken into account. However, newer research from the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians release new information which explained that better identification of risk factors among VBAC candidates can allow those risks to be eliminated.
Interestingly recent expert panels have explained that those who go through labor after a C-section have a decreased risk of maternal death. This is true whether one continues through with the vaginal birth or whether a C-section is ultimately required. At the end of the story the doctor notes that a C-section “remains a major surgery with major risks.” Therefore pregnant woman should fully explore all of their options with talking with doctors about how they’d like to proceed.
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