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C-Sections Can Cause More Harm Than Good If Overused

Armen Hareyan's picture


Although caesarean sections can "sav[e] lives when performed as anemergency intervention" during childbirth, the procedure can cause"more harm than good when overused," Jennifer Block, author of the book"Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care,"writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece.

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According to Block, CDC last month releaseddata showing that maternal mortality has increased for the "first timein decades," even though 99% of women give birth in a hospital withadvanced technology. About 30% of U.S. infants are delivered throughc-sections, which is "inherently riskier" than vaginal birth and canlead to repeat c-sections, which "carry even greater risks," Blockwrites.

U.S. "maternity wards are fast becoming surgicalsuites," Block writes, adding that the U.S. health care system has"become dangerously cavalier" about the increase in c-sections. "Inmany cases, women have no choice" in deciding whether to give birthvaginally or via c-section because "hundreds" of hospitals have"banned" vaginal births after c-sections, even though VBAC is a"low-risk event," according to Block. In addition, "many doctors willno longer attend [VBAC] because of malpractice liability."

Pregnantwomen in the U.S. need "entirely different care," Block says, adding,"They need doctors and hospitals that promote normal labor anddelivery" (Block, Los Angeles Times, 9/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.