Early Planned C-Sections Put Baby at Risk
Study Shows 36% of Planned C-Sections Are Performed Before 39 Weeks of Gestation
WebMD News Archive
Convenience Driving Early Delivery
Why are so many women having C-sections before 39 weeks of gestation?
Women who were insured, older, and married were the most likely to have
early, planned deliveries, the study shows. In an editorial accompanying the
study, Massachusetts General Hospital director of obstetrics Michael Greene,
MD, wrote that these women are more likely to place a premium on their own
doctor delivering their babies.
"To accommodate busy schedules and to minimize the chance that a patient
will begin labor and require a non-elective procedure when her doctor might not
be available, procedures are frequently scheduled just before 39 weeks of
gestation," he wrote.
Green tells WebMD that most obstetricians probably see no harm in pushing
delivery dates back a week or so, and will be surprised by the study
"These findings tell us that when it comes to newborn morbidity, many doctors and their patients are
running a yellow light if not a red light," he says.
Physicians may also be feeling pressure from hospital administrators to
perform planned C-sections at specific times.
Tita points out that the rate of early, planned, C-section deliveries ranged
from a low of 18% to a high of 50% at the hospitals participating in the
"This indicates that some of this was driven by the institutions,"
Thorp says he tries to perform planned, uncomplicated cesarean sections in
the 39th week, but he admits that it is sometimes a challenge.
"I would have loved to have performed the two that I did this morning at
the end of last week," he says. "That would have fit my schedule better
and it would have made my patients happy. But they hadn't quite reached 39