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Author Topic: Early C-sections linked to complications  (Read 1539 times)

Offline CareDC

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Early C-sections linked to complications
« on: August 14, 2009, 06:42:10 PM »
With the rise of cesarean sections in Canada, a baby's birth date now often comes down to a matter of scheduling. When is the doctor available? Is there a slot at your hospital of choice?

But new concerns are surfacing about the risks of scheduling a delivery earlier than the standard 39-week gestation. Although a fetus is considered full term any time after 37 weeks, new research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine has found a link between early deliveries and an increased risk of medical complications, including respiratory distress.

In a study assessing the health of babies born by elective cesarean section, those delivered before 39 weeks were substantially more likely to have complications than those delivered at 39 weeks. The complications included breathing problems and hypoglycemia that required medical ventilation, admission to an intensive care unit or a hospital stay of five or more days.

Alan Tita, a specialist in high-risk obstetrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, led the research, which examined 13,258 repeat C-section deliveries performed before the onset of labour and without any medical reasons suggesting an early delivery was crucial. The deliveries occurred at 19 academic medical centres across the United States.

A large proportion of those deliveries, about 36 per cent, occurred early, before 39 weeks gestation.

Of the babies delivered at 37 weeks, 15.3 per cent experienced medical complications. The figure dropped to 11 per cent at 38 weeks and 8 per cent at 39 weeks.

The lowest level of risk, 7.1 per cent, occurred at 40 weeks, before it started climbing again to a high of 19.5 per cent at 42 weeks - although very few women gave birth this late.

Put another way, Dr. Tita says, 48 per cent of the problems faced by babies delivered at 37 weeks "could have been prevented by waiting until 39 weeks."


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