Caesarean delivery associated with high risk of severe complications for the mother
Women who deliver their babies by caesarean section are associated with a higher risk of severe complications when compared with the mothers who go for vaginal delivery, a recent study suggests.
Rates of caesarean delivery have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, with more than 1 in 5 women delivering by caesarean, often for medically questionable reasons.
“Maternal complications may be the result of the condition that led to the caesarean delivery rather than from the surgical procedure, producing an apparent association between caesarean delivery and maternal complications,” said Diane Korb, lead researcher of the study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.
To understand if caesarean deliveries are associated with severe maternal complications, French researchers used a subcohort of a larger study to compare 1444 women who experienced severe complications after delivery with 3464 controls who did not experience complications, in 6 French regions. They controlled for factors that might influence the findings and adjusted for baseline risk. They excluded women with pre-existing health conditions that could lead to complications.
The researchers found an increased likelihood of severe complications after delivery among women who delivered by caesarean, whether surgery was performed before or during labour, especially for women aged 35 and older. Although severe maternal complications are uncommon overall, the study found that, for women under 35, the odds of having severe complications for women who had a caesarean delivery were about 1.5 times those of women who had a vaginal delivery, while for women older than 35 the odds were almost twice as high. Most severe maternal complications involved haemorrhage after delivery; the ability of the uterus to contract reduces with advanced maternal age.
“Our results raise questions about the practices of some obstetricians who perform caesarean deliveries because of advanced maternal age, perhaps with the idea that there will probably be no future pregnancies. This practice should be modified to avoid unnecessarily exposing women older than 35 to the risk of severe acute maternal morbidity,” Korb suggested.