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Benefits and risk of Caesarean route

Media release – October 19, 2006

Expecting NZ mums should reconsider benefits and risk of Caesarean route says UK expert

New Zealand mothers-to-be were today advised to reconsider the benefits and risks of surgical intervention before going down the Caesarean route.

Ms Jane Thomas, a leading UK obstetrician, said the Health Minister needed to listen to midwives, women having babies and obstetricians about Caesarean section concerns.

She made the comments today during the New Zealand College of Midwives biennial conference in Christchurch.
New Zealand had to be concerned and conscious of the global increase in C section births, she said. Of about 57,000 NZ babies born annually more than 13,000 were born by Caesarean section.
``You follow Australian and US model of healthcare in birthing patterns and it will be very much a cause of concern for people in NZ that to know that C section births in the US is nearly 30 percent of all births: the highest ever level.

``Women and your government should think about how they spend their tax dollars in the birth process and whether they really want to go down the road of promoting C section birth and intervention or whether they should go for normal births where appropriate.

``In the UK there has been concern about rising rates of C section. Some women need it and benefit from it. But there are other women who don’t necessarily need a C section and it may be more harmful and not beneficial to them or their babies -- and it is expensive.’’

Ms Thomas said there were definite risks to C section births and certainly work in the UK showed risks of damage from surgery through surgical complications.

C section births placed a significant cost on the national health bill and in many cases it was clearly not proving a health benefit, she said.

UK research had found that up to a quarter of Caesarean sections could be avoided if women having difficult labours were treated differently.

Ms Thomas is a clinical epidemiologist and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist. She recently returned to clinical practice in the Nation Health Service in the UK.

She is the key guest speaker at the three day conference with its theme: women and midwives, conscious guardians. The conference ends tomorrow.


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