Thursday, October 04, 2007

Caesarean increases risk of womb tearing

US and Swedish researchers report that nine in every 1,000 mothers who opted to try a vaginal delivery after a previous Caesarean are afflicted by a torn uterus. This condition puts both mother and baby at risk of loss of life.

The findings were based on a study of more than 300,000 Swedish women by Emory University, Atlanta and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

Fourteen of the 274 women who suffered a torn uterus lost their baby - a death rate of 51 per 1,000.

In contrast, the neonatal death rate among women who did not develop the condition was just 1.4 per 1,000.

Other risk factors

A prior Caesarean section was not the only factor which increased risk.

Women who gave birth aged 35 or older were nearly three times more vulnerable to a uterine tear than women aged 24 or younger.

Clinically obese women had more than twice the risk of women who were not overweight.

And inducing labour appeared to double the risk, compared to labour which began spontaneously.

The researchers suggested the chemicals used to induce birth weakened previous Caesarean scars, making them more likely to rip.

Women who gave birth late were discovered to be more at
risk than those who gave birth after a normal-length pregnancy,
regardless of whether they had had a Caesarean section before.

And women who gave birth to babies weighing at least 4kg were at twice the risk than women whose babies were less than 4kg.

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