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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 32 percent of pregnant women here in the U.S. underwent a cesarean section in 2013, a rate that was considerably higher than the target rate of 10 to 15 percent supported by the World Health Organization.
This trend has since continued to such a degree that medical professionals — including both the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — have started raising concerns that the surgical procedure, which is by no means minor, is perhaps being overused.
Interestingly, a recently published study in the British Medical Journal is once again serving to reignite the debate over whether c-sections perhaps need to be employed more judiciously.
What did this study find?
The researchers concluded that babies born via c-section are predisposed to developing a host of dangerous health conditions later in life, including type 1 diabetes, obesity and asthma.
How did they arrive at this conclusion?
Here, the researchers performed a sort of meta-analysis of previous studies, meaning they examined a large pool of existing research, uncovering nine studies that linked c-sections to obesity, 20 studies that linked c-sections to type 1 diabetes and 23 studies that linked c-sections to asthma.
Why are children born via c-section at a greater risk of developing these potentially deadly conditions?
The researchers stopped short of providing this critical answer, indicating that more research must be undertaken in the future to determine if the c-section is to blame or other factors.
Did the study results hold true here in the U.S.?
It was determined that the asthma rate among U.S. children born vaginally is 8.4 percent versus 9.5 percent for those born via c-section, and that the obesity rate among U.S. children born vaginally is 15.8 percent versus 19.4 percent for those born via c-section.
Similarly, it was found that the rate of type 1 diabetes among U.S. children born vaginally is 1.79 per 1,000 babies, but rose to 2.13 per 1,000 babies among U.S. children born via c-section.
What do the researchers call for in their study?
In addition to calling for further study, the researchers indicate that the clinical guidelines covering childbirth need to be updated such that they address the possibility of children born via c-section developing the aforementioned dangerous health conditions later in life.
Stay tuned for important updates on this story, including any response by medical professionals here in the U.S.
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