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C-Sections Tied to Rise in Preterm Births

One in Eight U.S. Babies Born Prematurely

C-Section Goal Far From Reality

Whatever the reason for the increase, the rate of C-section deliveries in the U.S. is now around 30% -- double the goal of 15% for uncomplicated pregnancies by 2010 set by the U.S. government eight years ago.

A special conference on the prevention of preterm births in the United States, scheduled for mid-June by the U.S. Surgeon General, should shed light on the causes and consequences of late preterm C-section deliveries, Petrini says.

She adds that pregnant women who are told they need a C-section or labor induction before 39 weeks of gestation should make sure they know why.

"One survey showed that women often couldn't identify their risk factor after having a C-section," she says.

Kilpatrick says some obstetricians may no longer consider late preterm delivery medically risky because pediatricians do such a good job of caring for babies born late in the third trimester.

"The view may be that 37 or 38 weeks is OK, but that is a dangerous notion," she says. "It is very important to have a good medical indication for performing a C-section or labor induction prior to 39 weeks."

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