'Alarming' rise in C-sections worldwide - study

Doctors say in many cases the use of the medical procedure is unjustified. Photo credit: Getty

A new worldwide study says doctors' use of Caesarean section to deliver babies has nearly doubled in 15 years.

The study, published in The Lancet, says in some countries the number of deliveries by C-section has reached "alarming" proportions, rising from 12 percent of all births in 2000 to 21 percent today.

The nation with the highest rate for using the surgery to assist childbirth is the Dominican Republic, with 58.1 percent.

In the UK it's 26.2 percent, North America 32 percent and in the Caribbean, 44.3 percent. In some Chinese provinces, 62 percent of all births are by C-section.

In New Zealand, 25.5 percent of all births in 2015 were by C-section - slightly more than half under emergency conditions. That's up from 24.4 percent in 2006.

Doctors say in many cases the use of the medical procedure is unjustified, and is only needed in 10 to 15 percent of births.

"Pregnancy and labour are normal processes, which occur safely in most cases," lead author Dr Marleen Temmerman  said.

"The large increases in C-section use - mostly in richer settings for non-medical purposes - are concerning because of the associated risks for women and children. 

"C-sections can create complications and side effects for mothers and babies, and we call on healthcare professionals, hospitals, funders, women and families to only intervene in this way when it is medically required."


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