According to a new study, mothers who have had a Cesarean section in the past, have a slight risk of stillbirth or of ectopic pregnancies in the future.
The research, published in PLOS Medicine, studied 800,000 women over a period of 20 years and found that women who had a C-section, had a 14 per cent increased rate of stillbirth in their next pregnancy (compared with women who gave birth via vaginal delivery). The research also found women who had a C-Section had a 9% increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
Basically, the risk of having a stillbirth or an eptopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy develops outside the uterus) in any pregnancy is low. But what the research showed is that for women who have had C-sections, the risk is every slightly higher. (Like 0.03%)
Science Codex explains:
In other words, performing approximately 3000 Caesarian sections would result in one extra stillbirth in a subsequent pregnancy. Compared to vaginal delivery, having a Caesarean section increased the risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy by 9% (an absolute risk increase of 0.1% and a number needed to harm of 1000) but did not increase the rate of subsequent miscarriages.
In 2010, 31.6% of women giving birth did so via a C-section.
Cesareans do come with some risks, although they are not nearly as dangerous as they were in the past. Infection, bleeding, inflammation of the membrane lining the uterus are all possible side effects – and there have been some links to long-term effects such as uterine rupture and problems with the placenta.
But these newest findings could leave many women feeling troubled – and possibly less likely to opt for a C-Section if it’s not medically necessary.
Professor Louise Kenny said that “The findings of the current study are particularly important for expectant mothers as well as healthcare professionals as Caesarean section rates are increasing significantly worldwide.”
However, the authors of the study also wanted to reassure expectant mothers and said that, “Whilst we showed that a previous Caesarean section is associated with a subsequent stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy, the overall risk of either is very low.”
The findings of the study were the result of looking at data from women on the Danish national registers. The authors analysed 833,000 individuals’ first births and whether they had C-sections – before following up with the women to learn about their subsequent pregnancies.
Would this study make you reconsider having a Cesarean section?