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Information "cuts Caesarean births"

New research claims arming pregnant women with more detailed information about giving birth could prevent around 4,000 Caesareans a year.

Around a quarter of births in the UK are by Caesarean section, but the procedure can increase the risks faced by both mother and child.

Babies are more likely to suffer breathing problems, and mothers can take longer to recover after the operation.

But the study, published online ahead of print in the British Medical Journal, found there are fewer Caesareans when women understand the pros and cons of different birth choices.

They also feel less anxious about having a baby if they have access to detailed data.

During the 1950s, around 3% of babies were delivered by Caesarean section, but this rose to around 15% in the mid-1990s.

In 2002, Government figures showed that Caesareans accounted for 23% of all deliveries - 9% by planned Caesarean and 14% by emergency.

The new study involved 742 pregnant women who have previously had a C-section birth, and found a higher percentage plump for a natural delivery after using a computer information programme.

The team from Bristol and Dundee universities concluded: "Decision aids can help women who have had a previous Caesarean section to decide on mode of delivery in a subsequent pregnancy.

"The decision analysis approach might substantially affect national rates of Caesarean section."

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British Medical Journal