Rate of premature births increase due to unnecessary C-sections

Caesarean sections account for most of the increase in pre-term births that occurred in the United States over a nine-year period, a new study says, findings that come at a time when pre-scheduled, and medically unnecessary, C-sections are growing in popularity.

The new research found an increase of 60,000 pre-term births between 1996 and 2004, and 92 per cent of them were C-sections.

As well, single baby premature births increased by 10 per cent during this time period, while C-sections among this group increased by 36 per cent.

According to the study, more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. every year.

The pre-scheduled, but unnecessary, C-section is a hot trend in Hollywood, and the phenomenon has been dubbed "too posh to push." However, more affluent women across the U.S. and Canada are getting in on the trend.

According to the findings, many of the single babies born prematurely during the study period were born between 32 and 36 weeks gestation. These babies have a higher risk of breathing and feeding difficulties, hypothermia, jaundice, impaired brain development and death.

"While complications during pregnancy may result in the need for a C-section, we're concerned that some early C-section deliveries may be occurring for non-medically indicated reasons," said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, medical director and senior vice president of the March of Dimes, in a statement.

The research was conducted by the March of Dimes and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It will be published in the June issue of Clinics of Perinatology.