This site is intended for health professionals only

Mothers twice as likely to die from elective caesareans

Women who opt for an elective caesarean birth have double the risk of illness or even death than those who follow a vaginal delivery, research shows.

Researchers randomly studied over 90,000 deliveries across eight Latin American countries over a period of three months.

Women having a caesarean delivery were twice as likely to die, have a hysterectomy, blood transfusion or be admitted to intensive care as those undergoing vaginal delivery.

Women who choose a caesarean were also five times more likely to need antibiotic treatment after the birth than those who delivered vaginally.

Risk of neonatal death was more than 70% higher for babies born head first from an elective and a clinician-chosen caesarean delivery compared with a vaginal delivery.

Despite this, research demonstrated that caesarean deliveries prevented foetal deaths in cases of breech born babies.

The authors concluded in the British Medical Journal that there exist no net benefits from liberal use of caesarean deliveries but it can instead do harm, with the exception of breech presentations.

British Medical Journal