Rising C-section rates add risks during childbirth and place excess strain on the healthcare system, warn Canadian obstetricians

    More than one in four children now born by Cesarean section

    CALGARY, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's obstetricians are warning today
that the percentage of babies born by Cesarean section is at an all-time high
and continues to rise.(1) This trend, says the Society of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), is exposing mothers to increased risks during
childbirth and for subsequent pregnancies, and is placing excess strain on the
healthcare system.
    In light of these rising rates, the Society is urging Canadian healthcare
professionals and women to opt for C-sections only when medically necessary.
    "While the individual risk for a woman having a C-section is very small,
the rising rate is certainly a concern," said Dr. Guylaine Lefebvre, President
of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. "We fear that
there may be an emerging trend towards more scheduled childbirth and routine
intervention. We need to be sure that C-sections are not driven by
convenience, that interventions are medically indicated, and that the safety
of a woman and her baby are the driving factors in these decisions."
    Many factors contribute to Canada's rising C-section rate, including the
country's rising obesity rates and the trend for women to delay pregnancy
until later in life. However, other contributing factors are not as clearly
understood, such as the effects of the current shortage of maternity care
providers or the role of changing patient and physician attitudes about
intervention in childbirth.
    Currently, more than one in four children is born by C-section. From 1993
to 2006, Canada's C-section rate increased from 17.6 percent up to
26.3 percent.(1) For Canada - one of the safest places in the world to give
birth - this rising rate presents a concerning trend for the future.
    For a low-risk childbirth that is progressing normally, C-sections
require substantially longer recovery times and present greater risks of
complications such as infection, bleeding, scarring, chronic pelvic pain, and
damage to the intestines or bladder. C-sections also increase the risks during
subsequent pregnancies, making a repeat C-section more likely. In 2007,
research by the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System found that elective
C-sections have higher risks of anesthetic complications, major infections,
obstetrical wound, and cardiac arrest. The study also notes that women who had
an elective C-section were more likely to require an immediate hysterectomy
due to bleeding.(2)
    "These additional C-sections place excess burden on a maternity care
system that is already facing a shortage of obstetricians and other health
professionals," said Dr. André Lalonde, SOGC Executive Vice-President.
    The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is actively
working to provide continuing education for Canadian healthcare professionals
on best practices relating to Cesarean section. In addition, the group is
seeking collaboration and support from its government and health partners to
further explore the root causes of these rising rates, to identify potential
solutions, and to properly assess the implications for the safety of
childbirth in this country.

    Additional fact sheets available on www.sogc.org:

    - Rising Obesity Rate is Driving up Canada's C-Section Rate
    - C-Sections Raise Risks for Future Pregnancies
    - Elective C-Sections Add Risks During Pregnancy
    - Demographics are Putting Upward Pressure on Canada's C-Section Rate

    About the SOGC

    The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is one
of Canada's oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the
Society's mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and
gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy,
collaboration, outreach and education. The SOGC represents
obstetricians/gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied
health professionals working in the field of sexual reproductive health. For
more information, visit www.sogc.org.


    1. Canadian Institute for Health Research Giving Birth in Canada:
       Regional Trends From 2001-2002 to 2005-2006.
    2. CMAJ Maternal mortality and severe morbidity associated with low-risk
       planned Cesarean delivery versus planned vaginal delivery at term

For further information:

For further information: Mike Haymes, Media Relations Officer, SOGC,
(403) 671-5613, mhaymes@sogc.com; Natalie Wright, Director of Communications
and Public Education, SOGC, (613) 240-0169, nwright@sogc.com

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Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

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