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Severe Obstetric Complications on the Increase
Date:1/21/2009

More Caesarean deliveries a possible cause, study suggests,,,,

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Although less than 1 percent of women giving birth experience severe complications, a new report shows the rate of such complications increased significantly between 1998 and 2005.

Problems such as blood clots, serious breathing difficulties, shock, kidney failure and the need for blood transfusions rose from 0.64 percent in 1998/1999 to 0.81 percent in 2004/2005.

"Our overall result was that morbidity rates for severe problems are low, but it's devastating when a mother has severe morbidity, and we did find that the trends were increasing," said study co-author Dr. Susan Meikle, a medical officer at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md.

Results of the study were published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Using national data, the researchers assessed births between 1998 and 2005, as well as whether or not there were recorded complications. In 1998, the data included almost 35 million births, while in 2005, there were more than 39 million.

The study found the incidence of severe maternal complications increased. The biggest jump occurred in the need for blood transfusions, which went up by 92 percent. The next biggest increase was in pulmonary embolism, which increased 52 percent during the study period.

"Pulmonary embolism is a complication associated with any type of surgery, and it's a high contributor to maternal mortality," Meikle said.

The percentage of women in respiratory distress after delivery jumped by 26 percent, and the rate of women who needed mechanical ventilation went up by 21 percent. The rate of women with kidney failure after delivery increased by 21 percent during the study period.

Meikle said the researchers found that the increase in severe complications
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