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Unnecessary Caesarean Deliveries Linked to Increased Risk of Breathing Problems: New Study

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 23-Dec-2007

An elective caesarian delivery can quadruple the odds that the delivered baby will suffer breathing problems when compared against those babies delivered vaginally or via emergency caesarian section.  The finding is the result of research conducted in Denmark and recently published in the British Medical Journal.

At 37 weeks of gestation, 2.8% of the babies in the study delivered by intended vaginal delivery experienced respiratory problems.  Among those babies delivered via elective caesarian section, 10% experienced respiratory problems at 37 weeks of gestation.  At 39 weeks, the gap narrowed, but remained statistically significant, with 1.1% of vaginally-delivered babies experiencing breathing trouble, compared to 2.1% of those delivered via elective caesarean. 

Scientists speculate that hormonal changes associated with labor may be necessary for proper development of the lungs of babies, and that if removed from the womb prior to those hormonal changes, a baby may miss an important physiological development cue.  Authors of the study suggest that newborn deaths attributed to respiratory difficulty could be reduced if elective caesarean births did not occur until after 39 weeks of gestation. 

Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • A study showing that artificially inducing labor can cause an amniotic fluid emolism
  • Research linking preeclampsia to heart disease risk
  • How a low-fat diet may protect against ovarian cancer

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