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Rate of Unnecessary C-Sections Far Lower Than Thought
Date:12/24/2008

Estimates put figure at nearly 60 percent; real number may be as low as 4 percent, study finds,,

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A new, closer look at data on Caesarean section births in the United States suggests that the actual number of unnecessary surgical deliveries is far lower than previously thought.

When looking at birth certificates alone, it appears the number of C-sections being performed in the United States on women who have no risk factors is almost 60 percent. But government experts who analyzed birth certificates and hospital discharge data found the actual number of such deliveries was closer to 4 percent.

"You can't use the birth certificate alone to determine whether or not a woman is at risk for primary Caesarean delivery," said study author Emily Kahn, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of reproductive health.

The finding are published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Nearly one in three babies in the United States was delivered by C-section in 2005, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That rate is the highest ever, according to background information in the study. The rate of primary Caesareans has increased sharply, while the rate of vaginal delivery after a primary C-section has dropped dramatically.

Trying to assess why the rate has increased, some researchers have turned to birth certificate data to get a population-based estimate of the number of unnecessary C-sections. If the birth certificate says there was "no indicated risk," it appears that those women had Caesareans for no discernable reasons.

Kahn said she and her colleagues were concerned that measuring unnecessary C-sections this way might lead to a large number of these surgeries being classified as unnecessary when, in fact, there were risk factors present to either the moth
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