Too Many C-Sections

Cesarean sections are overused in the United States, often for the convenience of the mother or more likely the obstetrician. One in three babies are delivered this way. Some countries including Mexico and Italy do even more.

Besides being riskier for the mother (anesthesia, infection), C-sections deprive the newborn of a mother’s special mix of microbes. Evidence from Harvard in 2012 found that delivery by C-section doubled the odds of later obesity in the child.

Tina Rosenberg for the New York Times compared rates and possible contributors in several locations.

In the May 7 story, she reported that Los Angeles Community Hospital did C-sections in nearly 63 percent of the lowest-risk births in 2012 while the rate for San Francisco General Hospital was 10 percent. Clearly, hospital procedure was driving such huge differences. Using salaried doctors instead of fee-per-service personnel was one factor that seemed to limit the numbers, she found.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss motivations and implications for the overuse. Read In Delivery Rooms, Reducing Births of Convenience.