Elective C-Sections Associated with Breathing Problems

Some caesarean sections, or C-sections, may leave babies at risk for breathing problems.  Today, Danish researchers revealed findings from a study that indicates that babies delivered by non-emergency caesareans sections are up to four times more likely to experience breathing problems than those babies who were delivered by vaginal birth.  The finding strengthens evidence about the risk of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/birth_injuries">birth injuries posed by elective caesareans, which are becoming increasingly popular around the world.  Anne Hansen of the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark said the risks were greatest when a caesarean section procedure was performed early, urging women not to choose to undergo an elective C-section procedure prior to their 39th week of pregnancy.  Many elective C-section procedures are being done at the 37th- and 38th-week time frames currently.

The study did not cover or explain why babies borne via caesarean section procedure are at higher risk for breathing problems, but the prevailing theory is that the risk was likely due to the hormonal and physiological changes that occur in the mother and baby’s bodies during the labor experience.  The process of labor triggers the release of a variety of stress hormones in the mother; these hormones are then passed on to the fetus during the labor and birthing process.  These stress hormones are thought to be an important factor in maturing the baby’s water-filled lungs and are not released when the mother gives birth via a C-section procedure.  Cases of breathing problems that are associated with caesarean section births are generally not considered serious; however, they do typically require placing the infant in an incubator and administering oxygen treatment.

Hansen and her colleagues based their research, which was published in the British Medical Journal, on a study of more than 34,000 births taking place in Denmark.  The study revealed a nearly four-fold increased risk of breathing difficulties in those babies delivered via caesarean section procedure at 37 weeks.  Babies delivered via caesarean section procedure at 38 weeks experienced a three-fold increase.  Babies delivered via a caesarean section procedure at 39 weeks experience a doubled risk.  As a result, 10 percent of babies delivered via caesarean section procedure experienced respiratory problems when delivered at 37 weeks, compared to 2.8 percent of infants intended for vaginal delivery.  By 39 weeks, the proportion was 2.1 percent compared to 1.1 percent.

Hansen stressed that C-sections procedures still offer many expectant mothers and their babies a wide variety of benefits, particularly in the case where babies are in a breech position and in cases where the mother and/or the baby was in danger or experiencing distress.

But many feel that the medical profession should do more to try and curb the rising demand for non-emergency caesareans section procedures saying that many women choose to undergo caesarean section procedures because their first delivery was a frightening experience and they fear a repeat of that experience with their future births.  Critics feel it is up to the medical professionals to work toward assuaging expectant mothers’ anxieties and fears and try and help to make the birthing process a more fulfilling, less frightening experience.

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