You are here

Study: C-Sections Not Always Best for Preemies


New research released today says that preterm babies delivered via C-section have a higher risk of respiratory problems than those birthed vaginally. This contradicts conventional wisdom that C-sections, while they pose health risks to the mother, pose few or no health risks to babies.

Plus: 7 Common Preemie Problems

The study, which was done by professors at Johns Hopkins and Yale medical schools, looked at the birth certificates of 2,560 preterm babies, specifically those small for gestational age, and found that those delivered before 34 weeks of pregnancy via C-section had a 30 percent higher chance of having respiratory distress syndrome than babies at a similar gestational age who were born vaginally. (Babies diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction who are not growing sufficiently in the womb are currently likely candidates for birth via C-section.)

Plus: One Mother’s Story of Her Preemies’ First Months

"Although in many instances, a C-section is medically necessary for the health of the baby or the mother, this research shows that in some cases the surgery may not be beneficial for some infants," said Diane Ashton, MD, MPH, the March of Dimes deputy medical director. “These findings overturn conventional wisdom that C-sections have few or no risks for the baby and are consistent with the March of Dimes' effort to end medically unnecessary deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy.”

Moms of preemies, what was your delivery experience?