C-sections performed at full term reduce complications for babies

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The number of cesarean sections that were performed at a pregnancy’s full term has increased, according to a government agency. A C-section can lead to fewer risks of complications for newborns, an expert tells Consumers Digest.

The number of C-sections that were performed at a pregnancy’s full term (39–40 weeks) increased by 4 percentage points in 2011 compared with 2009, and the number of scheduled C-section deliveries that result from being induced into labor early (37–38 weeks) decreased by 5 percentage points over that same time frame, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was released June 27, 2013.

Delaying a C-section until a fetus is fully developed reduces the risk of an infant developing respiratory or blood-sugar-regulation complications, says Dr. George Macones, who is the chairman of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis. Although, the complications last only a few days, he says an infant whose delivery was induced at 37–38 weeks might require additional care while in the hospital, which might not have been necessary if he/she were delivered at full term.

Macones attributes the increase in the number of C-sections that were performed at full term to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ efforts to educate doctors and patients about the benefits of waiting until a fetus is developed fully before performing a C-section.

Consumers Digest first reported about the risks of early-term C-sections in “Special Delivery: Why Doctors Are Pushing So Many C-Sections” at ConsumersDigest.com.

– K. Fanuko