Hospitals in Oregon are no longer allowing elective cesarean sections to be performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy. A growing number of hospitals across the country are refusing to allow the procedure before that time, due to risks of pre-term birth.
March of Dimes encourages end to elective c-sections
A group of 17 hospitals in Oregon, according to MSNBC, have put a “hard stop” to elective cesarean sections performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy. The March of Dimes has been lobbying to halt the practice due to possible complications involved in pre-term delivery. Delivering a baby even two weeks early, by c-section or otherwise, results in a higher risk of problems with feeding, respiratory complications, jaundice and other ailments. The March of Dimes would like more hospitals and ob/gyns to not allow a non-emergency c-section before 39 weeks, and hospitals in California, Texas, Illinois and New York have already banned the procedure. According to the Portland Business Journal, infants delivered prior to 39 weeks have a 10 percent chance of complications and double the mortality rate of infants delivered at full-term.
Number of c-sections rising
According to WebMD, almost 28 percent of all births were via c-section in 2003. By 2006, according to USA Today, the rate had climbed to 31.1 percent, an increase of 50 percent from 1996. In 2009, according to a HealthGrades study, 34 percent of U.S. births were c-sections, according to MSNBC. According to Today, it is the most common surgery in the United States. However, the rate of elective c-sections, or c-sections that weren’t medically necessary, has been rising faster. According to WebMD, the rate of elective c-sections rose from 19.7 percent in 1994 to 28.3 percent in 2001, a 44 percent increase. There also seems to be an incentive for mothers who give birth via c-section to keep giving birth that way. According to CNN, a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine study found that 13,258 of 24,000 mothers who had previously had a c-section had elective c-sections in subsequent births. The same study, according to ABC, found that 36 percent of those c-sections were performed before 39 weeks of gestation.
Higher cost and higher risks
Greater risks of birth complications exist for vaginal births after a previous c-section, according to ABC. However, births by c-section are riskier for mothers and children. A 2006 study, according to USA Today, found women planning to give birth via c-section were twice as likely to be hospitalized within a month of birth. According to ABC, mortality rates are higher for babies born via c-section and their mothers. The cost of a c-section is also 76 percent higher than a natural birth. According to ABC, insurance companies are less likely to cover an elective c-section. According to the Portland Business Journal, 40 percent of all births in Oregon are covered by Medicare. A Portland hospital, according to Fox8 of Cleveland, found that forbidding elective pre-term c-sections saved $1 million per year because up to 500 pre-term newborns would not need to be put on a ventilator.
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-01-07-csections_N.htm
Portland Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2011/08/05/hospitals-saying-no-to-early.html
Fox 8: http://www.fox8.com/health/wjw-scheduled-cesarean-section-risks-law-txt,0,4850176.story
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