C-sections linked to chronic disease in kids

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As if anyone would hope to end up on the operating table during childbirth, now there’s another compelling reason to avoid an unnecessary Cesarean section: Children born by this surgical procedure may suffer from chronic health conditions as a result.

While no one’s arguing that a C-section can be a lifesaving, medically necessary procedure, there’s growing concern among the medical community that going under the knife isn’t always warranted. Whether performed out of habit, convenience or a fear of lawsuits, C-sections in the U.S. are on the rise and this uptick has some health officials concerned. Not only does this operation cost more than a vaginal delivery, but it also raises the risk for postpartum infection and complications.

Now, new evidence published in the British Medical Journal gives even more cause for worry. Compiling findings from several recent studies such as clinical trials and observational assessments, this group of scientists discovered an alarming link between C-sections and long-term diseases such as diabetes, asthma and obesity.

“It is clear that cesarean-born children have worse health, but further research is needed to establish whether it is the cesarean that causes disease, or whether other factors are at play,” Dr. Jan Blustein, the study’s co-author, said in a statement.

Though the findings were not conclusive, the study’s authors urged moms-to-be to take their research into consideration. Based on this study, Blustein is fighting to change the clinical guidelines surrounding C-sections and vaginal deliveries.

What you can do

While it might be years before we see additional research, it’s wise to discuss your options with your doctor or midwife. Is your health care provider pushing a surgical delivery? Find out why. If there’s a medical reason behind the decision, let your doctor or midwife know that you’d like to explore alternative treatment before signing up for the operating room. For example, for babies in the breech position – that is, bottom down in the birth canal – a C-section is almost always mandated. Talk to your team about different ways to encourage baby to reposition before delivery day.

Have you talked to your doctor or midwife about the possibility of a C-section? Share your experiences, hopes and fears with other moms-to-be in the comments section below.

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