Babies born by caesarean are three times more likely to die in the first month than babies born naturally, according to a new study.
Earlier studies had hinted that babies born by caesarean are more likely to experience breathing problems.
Now, US researchers studied over 5.7 million births and found that from 1998 to 2001, the death rate among those delivered by caesarean was 1.77 per 1,000 live births compared to 0.62 for vaginal deliveries, reported the online edition of BBC News.
This is a relatively small risk but it is there and people need to know that, the researchers said. "Women should not be alarmed by the findings but should be informed. The absolute risk is still very small," the researchers said.
Generally, neonatal deaths are rare for low-risk women, in the order of one death per 1,000 live births, according to the lead researcher Marian MacDorman of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the study only includes babies that were born alive, which the researchers said would change the results. Had stillbirths been included, the risk of vaginal deliveries would have been closer to that of caesarean deliveries.
Also, the deliveries in the study ranged from 37 weeks' gestation to full-term or 41 weeks.