study c sections rates too high at many us hospitals

As much as expecting parents want to plan every detail when it comes to the impending birth of their child, the simple fact is that there is much that is simply beyond their control. Indeed, a mother may go into labor several weeks earlier or later than expected, or may even end up delivering the child via cesarean section rather than traditional delivery.

Regarding this last point, a recently released study by the Leapfrog Group, the health safety advocacy group, found that hospitals throughout the U.S. might actually be performing too many C-sections.

As part of the study, researchers examined data from 1,122 hospitals in 33 states to see how many had C-section rates that were in line with Leapfrog’s benchmark rate of 23.9 percent or lower.

What they found was that a mere 39.1 percent of the hospitals had C-section rates within this range. Perhaps even more shocking, they were unable to uncover any discernible pattern among the hospitals with higher C-section rates.

Breaking the numbers down on a state-by-state level, Utah came in at number one on the list with 16 hospitals recording an average C-section rate of 18.3 percent. Rounding out the top five were Idaho (19.8 percent), Oregon (20.1 percent), Wyoming (20.5 percent) and Colorado (21.9 percent).

Those states that came in last included Texas (29.8 percent), Mississippi (30.5 percent), Louisiana (30.6 percent), Florida (32.6 percent) and Kentucky (35.3 percent).

As for Pennsylvania, the Keystone State was tied for sixteenth on the list with 28 hospitals recording a C-section rate of 25.8 percent.

For those wondering why a higher C-section rate is cause for concern, the Leapfrog Group indicates that it presents an elevated medical risk to both mother and child.

Indeed, given the fact that it is a major surgical procedure, the mother is at risk of blood clots and infections, and longer-term complications such as chronic pelvic pain and fertility issues. As for babies, C-sections have been linked to breathing difficulties necessitating treatment in a newborn intensive care unit, and the onset of childhood diseases such as diabetes and asthma.

It will be interesting to see how hospitals respond to the report — particularly those that opted not to participate in the study.

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