New Study Shows Obstetric Interventions are on the Decline

Whitney Taylor | August 10th, 2016

pregnant womanCesarean deliveries and induced labors may be on the decline in the Unites States, according to a new study. The lower rates, which have been decreasing since 2006, may be due in part to the risk of birth injuries linked to these delivery techniques.

The study, which was published in the most recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was performed by an international group of researchers. These scientists looked at live births from 2006 to the present in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada and the United States. Millions of births were included in the analysis, with around 26 million from the U.S. alone.

The researchers found that obstetric intervention in early term births decreased from 33 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014. In contrast, early term births without obstetric intervention only dropped from 29.7 percent to 27.1 percent during that same time period.

Researchers in this study attributed the differences in the declines to the recommendations from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) to delay interventions until 39 weeks of pregnancy or later. The recommendations came after studies that showed fewer obstetrical interventions during early term births resulted in fewer injuries and C-section mistakes. As a result, ACOG began calling on more non-medical interventions prior to the 39-week mark to support expectant mothers during the later weeks of their pregnancies.

Thousands of Cesarean deliveries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 1.2 million Cesarean sections performed in the United States in 2013 alone. This number accounted for around one-third of all the births in the U.S. during that year. However, the World Health Organization has been advising against Cesarean births since the 1980s, unless they are medically necessary.

Studies have found that performing Cesarean sections prior to the 39-week mark may lead to an increased risk of death to both the mother and the baby. One such study, published in JAMA in December 2015, found that the optimal number of C-section deliveries to minimize death rates of mother and child was 19 out of every 100 live births. No additional benefit was seen in higher numbers.

Another study, published in the March 2016 edition of the medical journal The Lancet Haematology, found that pre-labor Cesarean delivery was linked to a higher incidence of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In fact, children born through pre-term Cesarean delivery had a 23-percent higher risk of ALL than children born full term.

C-section risks may outweigh benefits

Cesareans performed at the time of delivery due to stress on the baby or mother can be lifesaving. However, when these deliveries are performed for convenience or other reasons beyond medical necessity, the benefits may not outweigh the risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, risks to the baby may include breathing problems and injuries during delivery, on top of the risks found in the recent studies.

Risks to the mother during Cesarean delivery could include complications related to anesthesia, blood clots and infection related to surgery. Women who have had Cesarean deliveries may also suffer increased risks during future pregnancies.

If your child suffered injury during delivery caused by negligence or C-section errors, you may have the right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. The Sanders Firm can help you navigate the complex legal process, protect your rights and help you obtain the damages you need to pay for medical bills, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.

Explore your options for legal recourse by calling our New York birth injury attorneys at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.


  1. Journal of American Medical Association, Temporal Trends in Late Preterm and Early Term Birth Rates in Six High Income Countries in North America and Europe and Association with Clinician-Initiated Obstetric Interventions, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2536635

  2. The Lancet, Cesarean Delivery and Risk of Childhood Leukemia: A Pooled Analysis from the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanhae/article/PIIS2352-3026(16)00002-8/abstract

  3. Mayo Clinic, C-Section Risks, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/basics/risks/prc-20014571