Stillbirth Risk Not Higher After C-Section

Women With a Prior Cesarean Section May Actually Have Lower Risk of Stillbirth

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Feb. 14, 2005 - Women who have delivered a child through a cesarean section (C-section) don't face a higher risk of stillbirth in later pregnancies, according to a new study.

The results show that the number of stillbirths among women in the U.S. who had prior C-sections was actually lower than the number of stillbirths among women who had never had a C-section.

Researchers say the findings refute a previous study conducted in England that suggested C-sections may increase the risk of subsequent stillbirths.

"We used a much larger data set of 250,000 patients than the British study, which used 16,000 patients," says researcher Mert Ozan Bahtiyar of Yale University, in a news release. "We were not expecting different results, but we found that prior caesarean section did not increase the risk of future stillbirth."

Bahtiyar presented the results of the study this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine in Reno, Nev.

C-Sections Not Linked to Stillbirth Risk

In the study, researchers analyzed the risk of stillbirths reported to the CDC between 1995 and 1997.

Researchers found the overall rate of stillbirths was 118 per 100,000 pregnancies, but the risk of stillbirth was much higher among black women than among white women (200 vs. 92 per 100,000 pregnancies).

When they looked at the rate of stillbirths among women who had a previous C-section, they found the rate was much lower than among those who had no prior C-sections (78 vs. 126 per 100,000 pregnancies).

Researchers say this reduction in stillbirth risk was also evident in both black and white women.

"Caesarean sections have been associated with some pregnancy complications, but when a physician consults a woman with prior caesarean sections about her next pregnancy, stillbirth should not be one of the concerns," says Bahtiyar.

Other risk factors for stillbirth include a prior stillbirth, mother's age over 35, smoking, substance abuse, and other medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia.

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SOURCES: Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine 25th Annual Meeting, Reno, Nev., Feb. 7-12, 2005. News release, Yale University.
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