Early C-Sections Putting Babies at Risk?

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More expectant mothers in America are having cesarean sections scheduled before the recommended 39 weeks, but new research shows the elective surgery could do more harm than good.

Little Jake Moreno came into the world healthy, perhaps because his mom and doctor waited long enough.

Jake  was delivered by C-section, a surgery that's often scheduled weeks in advance, and even though the normal gestation period is 40 weeks, many people schedule their C-sections for well before then.

"[It's a] convenience," said Dr. Judy Aschner of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  "Making sure you deliver when your obstetrician is available, or on Grandpa Joe's birthday."

But a new study says C-section babies born at 38 weeks are 50 percent more likely to go to the intensive care unit, 70 percent more likely to have infections that call for antibiotics and 200 percent more likely to develop respiratory distress or serious breathing problems which can require a ventilator.

Click here to read a summary of the study.

If a mother-to-be is scheduling a C-section, she should keep in mind that the very last weeks of pregnancy are when the baby's lungs and brain are developing rapidly, and cutting that pregnancy short could interfere with that growth.

Research indicates C-section babies are healthiest when delivered between 39 and 41 weeks.  So why do doctors perform them earlier than that?

"I think probably because they don't fully appreciate the risks that this paper highlights and this is a red flag," claimed Dr. Katherine Economy of the Brigham & Women's Hospital.  "This is a wake-up call."
 
It's a call that could remind doctors and expectant parents that it's not what's most convenient, but what's best for baby that matters most.

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.