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Cesarean Rates, Placenta Accreta, and Maternal Mortality

What is one risk most women don’t know about when considering a repeat c-section over trying for a vaginal delivery?  Something called placenta acretta, which has been increasing over the past decade along side of the increasing c-section, and repeat c-section rates.

Placenta accreta is a condition in which the placenta actually grows into the uterus making delivery much more dangerous, and complicated.

The American Pregnancy Association describes it as:

“The placenta normally attaches to the uterine wall, however there is a condition that occurs where the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the wall of the uterus. This condition is known as placenta accreta, placenta increta, or placenta percreta depending on the severity and deepness of the placenta attachment. Approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience placenta accreta, increta or percreta.”

Today ABC News reported in an article entitled Caesarian Rates and Placenta Accreta: Multiple C-sections can kill Mother:

Once a rare event that affected 1 in 30,000 pregnant women in the 1950s and 1960s, placenta accrete now affects 1 in 2,500 pregnancies, according to a 2007 report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In some hospitals, the number is as high as 1 in 522.

A huge increase, which is incredibly scary, especially for someone who has already had two cesarean deliveries myself. But this is nothing new. I actually wrote about this last year on my own personal website before learning I was pregnant with my third child. The post came after a New York news station covered the increasing medical condition in a health expose.

But how often are women really being informed about this risk when they are discussing safe deliver options after having one surgical delivery?

Doctor George featured in the above article was also quoted as saying:

“A Caesarian should never be done to accommodate your schedule or because of your fears of pain,” she said. “It’s an unnecessary trauma to the body and it should not be treated as an alternative to natural childbirth.”

So for all the mothers out there with previous c-section deliveries… was the risk of Placenta Accretta discussed with you when it came to having your second child?

According to ACOG, the risk goes up with each c-section:

# of c-sections          % accreta

1                                   0.3

2                                   0.6

3                                   2.1

4                                   2.3

5 or more                     6.7

photo: flickr.com/SantaRose OLD SKOOL

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