Early C-Sections Risky for Babies
01.08.09 Study says timing is everything when it comes to birth and your baby's health
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine is shining a light on the risky practice of scheduling Cesarean births too early, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Researchers said thousands of women put their babies at needless risk of respiratory problems, hypoglycemia and other health problems when they deliver via elective C-sections at 37 or 38 weeks. These deliveries had up to four times the risk of complications compared to C-sections done after 39 weeks. The study showed delivering via C-section even one to three days shy of 39 weeks had a significantly higher risk of health complications. However, the experts also noted that the rate of problems rose again for babies born at 41 and 42 weeks—suggesting that there's a narrow window for deliveries to achieve the best possible outcome for newborns.
These new findings add to the concerns raised in an earlier Crib Notes about too-early C-sections. According to federal figures, C-sections now account for one-third of U.S. births; an additional one-fifth of newborns arrive via induced labor.
C-sections can also pose risks for mom, which we've discussed in the past. However, a C-section is just a must in some cases—after all, there's more than one way to birth. Even if you're not planning on having one, make sure you read up on what to expect after a C-section (just in case!).
Interested in what it's like? Check out a Fit Pregnancy editor's behind-the-scenes video at the C-section delivery of her twins!
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.