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C-Sections Are Riskier for Preemies

When a baby is at risk, it’s best to deliver them early by caesarean section, because it eliminates certain risks, right? New research (found in this article is showing this is often not best for the baby.

The study indicates that preemies who were small for their age were 30% more likely to have breathing problems if they were delivered via c-section, rather than delivered vaginally. This is a big deal as breathing problems are one of the most prevalent challenges for babies who are born early.

These days, most health care providers seem to think it best to deliver fragile babies early and hurry them into neonatal intensive care units. The study (whose results have not yet been published) is guaranteed to become ammunition in the battle waging to reduce the number of unnecessary C-sections in the United States.

Erika Werner, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins, says, “we think that the vaginal delivery process must do something to help those kids’ lungs mature, whether it’s the contractions or the act of transitioning more slowly from inside to outside.” Werner is the lead researcher on the study, and presented her findings Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas, Texas.

The study monitored the health of more than 2,500 babies considered small for their gestational age. The babies delivered by C-section did no better when it came to many common complications of an early birth. They also had a higher risk of respiratory distress syndrome and generally scored lower on the Apgar test. (Click here for more specifics on the study.)

Preemies are way more likely to be delivered by C-section than are full-term babies. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2009, a whopping 46 percent of preemies were born by C-section, compared to 29 percent of full term babies.

C-Sections are a necessary intervention sometimes. But if this study has any legs, it’s pretty obvious that they may be doing more harm than good.

What do you think of this new study? Did you have a C-Section or a preemie (or both)? I’d love to hear how this effects your thoughts on a premature birth experience.

Image Source: Flickr | SarieHopkins

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