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Caesarean Babies Three Times More Likely to Die in First Month

A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) states that babies born via Caesarean are much more likely to die than those born by natural means. The story was reported by several news agencies including the September 7, 2006 United Press International (UPI) and the September 8, 2006 Newsday newspaper.

The study, first published in the September 2006 issue of the journal, "Birth", was the result of a very large study where researchers analyzed 5.7 million birth and death records from 1998 to 2001. What was interesting about the findings is that researchers expected to find the increased death rate in Caesarian born babies being due to medical complications or conditions that led to the usage of Caesarean delivery in the first place. However, after ruling out these factors this study looked at elective Caesarean procedures and found that the death rate for children born by Caesarean when there was not medical necessity was almost three times the rate of those vaginally delivered.

Researchers then adjusted their findings for other factors such as the mother's age, race or ethnicity, smoking and infant birth weight. Even taking these factors into account the death rate for babies born by Caesarean births was more than twice that of vaginal births.

The lead researcher, Marian MacDorman from the CDC stated: "Neonatal deaths are rare for low-risk women is of the order of one death per 1,000 live births. But even after we adjusted for socioeconomic and medical risk factors, the difference persisted. These findings should be of concern for clinicians and policymakers who are observing the rapid growth in the number of primary Caesareans to mothers without a medical indication."

One of the co-authors of the study, Michael Molloy, added, "When obstetricians review this information, perhaps it will promote greater discussion within the obstetrical community about the pros and cons of offering Caesarean sections for convenience and promote more research into understanding why this increased risk persists."

In the original study, one of the concerns that these findings raised is that "the percentage of United States' births delivered by Caesarean section has increased rapidly in recent years, even for women considered to be at low risk for a Caesarean section." In the study's conclusions, and noting the differences between vaginal death rates and Caesarians, the authors caution, "Understanding the causes of these differentials is important, given the rapid growth in the number of primary Caesarean without a reported medical indication.