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

wasn't related to rising maternal age, but that some complications, such as the need for a blood transfusion, blood clots and shock, may be associated with an increase in the rate of Caesarean deliveries.

"This is an interesting study, but the database isn't complete," said Dr. Robert Welch, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. For example, he said, the study doesn't separate those who have elective C-sections from those who have to have one after hours of hard labor.

Still, he noted, this study highlights that the risks of C-sections "sometimes get downplayed. It's often taken as just a step above natural childbirth, but it is a major abdominal operation that needs to be respected, and hospitals need to be prepared to deal with severe complications."

Meikle added that there was an association between obesity and pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels to the lungs), but that the link didn't reach statistical significance in this study.

A second study in the same issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, also suggested that additional weight can create more problems during delivery. This study looked at more than 10,000 teen births and found that obese teens had more than a fourfold increased risk of delivering by C-section compared to their normal-weight peers. Obese teens also had four times the risk of developing gestational diabetes, according to the study.

More information

Learn more about medical reasons for having a C-section from the March of Dimes.



SOURCES: Susan F. Meikle, M.D., M.S.P.H., medical officer, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.; Robert Welch, M.D., chairman, obstetrics and gynecology, Providence Hospital, Southfield, Mich.; February 2009, Obstetrics
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