Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Recommended Reading: C-Sections

I just ran across this article in the New York Times, entitled "Voluntary C-Sections Result in More Baby Deaths". Yikes! While the findings are by no means uncontested, here's the gist of it: Some researchers looked at records for nearly six million births in the U.S., using data gathered by the CDC. They "found that the neonatal mortality rate for Caesarean delivery among low-risk women is 1.77 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the rate for vaginal delivery is 0.62 deaths per 1,000." While it's apparently not news that the infant mortality rate for babies born via C-section is higher than those born vaginally (though it was to me), doctors have always thought that this was due to the complications that led to the C-section to begin with. This study raises questions about that assumption. According to this article, the C-section rate in the U.S. is about 29.1%. The World Health Organization recommends a C-section rate of 10-15% - quite a difference! (In the interests of full disclosure, I wasn't able to find this recommendation on their website myself. I did, however, find a series of illustrations showing how to perform a Caesarean which was very, very yucky.) One reason I think I'm so comfortable having this baby in Japan, despite language and cultural barriers, is that they have one of the lowest C-section rates in the world - as low as 7-8%. I'm glad to be doing this in a place where I can be more confident that, if I do end up needing a C-section, it's much more likely to actually be necessary. While there certainly is a place for C-sections, it seems that they're grossly overused in the U.S. But if a doctor tells a woman, "You need a C-section or your baby's life is in danger," how many women will respond, "Oh, no thank you, it's statistically unlikely that this is actually necessary. I think I'll take my chances." Not many.


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