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Elective Cesarean: Babies On Demand

C-Sections are on the rise and moms are getting blamed, but is it really the woman's fault?

Where Do We Go From Here

Doctors say that while advances in C-section delivery have increased its safety profile considerably, risks still remain higher than for a vaginal delivery, and rise still higher with every C-section a woman has.

"By the time a woman gets to her third cesarean, she's at serious risk for life-changing and even life-threatening complications," says Bernstein.

In the September 2006 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a group of French researchers found that the rate of maternal death from C-section was three times that of vaginal delivery, due mostly to increased risk of blood clots, infections, and complications from anesthesia.

Moreover, the first study to examine risks to babies born via elective cesarean, published in this month's edition of Birth, reported that in 6 million births, the risk of death to newborns delivered vaginally was 0.62 per thousand live births versus 1.77 for those delivered by elective C-section.

Recent news statements by Stanley Zinberg, MD, deputy executive vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, show that while ACOG continues to review maternal-request cesarean, "At this time, our position is that cesareans should be performed for medical reasons."

Still, all the experts interviewed by WebMD said individual patient need -- and choice -- should remain the prime considerations when deciding how to give birth.

For example, Bernstein says that for a woman who is 40 and having her one and only child, a C-section isn't a bad choice, while for a young fertile woman having her first child it could be a mistake.

Explains Bernstein: "Essentially the first delivery lays down the risks for all subsequent deliveries -- so if you can have your first and hopefully your second baby delivered vaginally, it's better for you, and better for your baby."

Hollywood ... are you listening? Stay tuned.

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