C-section use doubled globally since 2000
London: The number of babies born through caesarean section almost doubled worldwide between 2000 and 2015, from 12 to 21 per cent of all births, according to a series of three papers published in The Lancet journal.
While the life-saving surgery is still unavailable for many women and children in low-income countries and regions, the procedure is overused in many middle- and high-income settings, said researchers, including those from Ghent University in Belgium.
In the 10 countries with the highest number of births in 2010-2015, there were large differences in caesarean section or C-section use between regions - for example, differences between provinces in China ranged from 4 per cent to 62 per cent, and inter-state differences in India ranged from 7 per cent to 49 per cent, they said. C-section is a life-saving intervention for women and newborns when complications such as bleeding, foetal distress and hypertensive disease occur. The surgery is not without risk for mother and child, and is associated with complications in future births.
It is estimated 10-15 per cent of births require a C-section due to complications, suggesting average C-section use should lie between these levels.
The series authors estimate more than one in four countries in 2015 had lower levels (28 per cent), while most countries used C-section above the recommended level (63 per cent). In at least 15 countries C-section use exceeds 40 per cent. “Pregnancy and labour are normal processes. 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,” said series lead Marleen Temmerman from Aga Khan University in Kenya and Ghent University.