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Cesarean's May Harm Lung Growth

Posted Oct 02 2008 3:16pm

As the years go on and the cesarean rates rise, I predict we will see more and more research unearthing the adverse affects of cesarean birth and the pendulum will swing back towards vaginal birth.  At least that is my hope.  Here is a good article from BBC news on some of the potential risks of elective cesarean.  Please note that babies born by emergency cesarean had fewer lung problems then those born by elective cesarean.  If you must have a cesarean for medical reasons, don't schedule it unless absolutely necessary for the health of mom/baby, wait until your body goes into labor naturally, then have the cesarean.

Caesareans 'may harm lung growth'
Babies born by elective Caesarean section are much more likely to
develop breathing problems, a Danish study examining 34,000 deliveries

Researchers found they were up to four times more likely to have
respiratory problems than those born naturally, or by emergency
Caesarean section.

The babies may miss out on hormonal and physiological changes during
labour which help mature the lungs, they say.

The University of Aarhus study features in the British Medical Journal.

Major operation

Almost a quarter of UK births are now estimated to be Caesarean
sections - far above the 10% to 15% rate recommended by the World
Health Organization.

"A lot of woman are completely unaware of the fact that a planned
Caesarean section can negatively impact on their baby." Dr Maggie Blott
Consultant obstetrician

More than half of these were emergency Caesareans, but despite this
experts have been calling for measures to reduce numbers of elective
Caesareans, warning it is a major operation.

A recent Oxford University study found that women could be four times
more likely to die in childbirth if they opted for a Caesarean instead
of natural birth.

The Danish team examined data on over 34,000 deliveries, adjusting to
take account of factors such as the mother's age, weight, and whether
she smoked or drank alcohol during pregnancy

They found that babies born by elective Caesarean section had an
increased risk of general respiratory problems.

The risk was higher the earlier the Caesarean was performed.

A nearly fourfold increased risk was found at 37 weeks gestation, a
threefold increase in risk at 38 weeks gestation, and a doubling of
risk in infants delivered at 39 weeks gestation.

For example, at 37 weeks, one in 10 babies delivered by elective
Caesarean section developed respiratory problems, compared with 2.8%
of infants delivered naturally or by emergency Caesarean section.

At 38 weeks, the proportion was 1.7% compared with 5.1% and at 39
weeks, 1.1% compared with 2.1%.

The risks of serious respiratory problems showed the same pattern.

The researchers conclude that significantly fewer babies would develop
breathing problems if elective Caesareans were put off until 39 weeks

They said: "It is plausible that hormonal and physiological changes
associated with labour are necessary for lung maturation in neonates
and that these changes may not occur in infants delivered by elective
Caesarean sections."

Lung fluid

Dr Maggie Blott, a consultant obstetrician at King's College Hospital,
London, said obstetricians in the UK were advised not to carry out
elective Caesareans before 39 weeks.

She said part of the problem might be that doctors had to switch
support lines to the baby very quickly during a Caesarean, and it was
possible that lung fluid is not drained away as well as it should be.

She said: "Some babies do develop transient breathing problems, they
usually recover from them, but occasionally a baby can be very sick

"A lot of woman are completely unaware of the fact that a planned
Caesarean section can negatively impact on their baby.

"Any research which reinforces the fact that Caesareans are not
necessarily in the best interests of the baby is welcome."

Mervi Jokinen, of the Royal College of Midwives, said Caesarean
section rates were too high in the UK.

She said it was a major operation, which had health implications for
the mother, as well as the baby.

"The decision to opt for a Caesarean section should not be taken
lightly and should be based on good medical grounds," she said.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/12/12 01:17:41 GMT


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