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1.  Planned Vaginal Birth or Elective Repeat Caesarean: Patient Preference Restricted Cohort with Nested Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001192.
A study conducted in Australia provides new data on the outcomes for mother and baby associated with either planned vaginal birth, or elective repeat caesarean section following a previous caesarean section.
Background
Uncertainty exists about benefits and harms of a planned vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) compared with elective repeat caesarean (ERC). We conducted a prospective restricted cohort study consisting of a patient preference cohort study, and a small nested randomised trial to compare benefits and risks of a planned ERC with planned VBAC.
Methods and findings
2,345 women with one prior caesarean, eligible for VBAC at term, were recruited from 14 Australian maternity hospitals. Women were assigned by patient preference (n = 2,323) or randomisation (n = 22) to planned VBAC (1,225 patient preference, 12 randomised) or planned ERC (1,098 patient preference, ten randomised). The primary outcome was risk of fetal death or death of liveborn infant before discharge or serious infant outcome. Data were analysed for the 2,345 women (100%) and infants enrolled.
The risk of fetal death or liveborn infant death prior to discharge or serious infant outcome was significantly lower for infants born in the planned ERC group compared with infants in the planned VBAC group (0.9% versus 2.4%; relative risk [RR] 0.39; 95% CI 0.19–0.80; number needed to treat to benefit 66; 95% CI 40–200). Fewer women in the planned ERC group compared with women in the planned VBAC had a major haemorrhage (blood loss ≥1,500 ml and/or blood transfusion), (0.8% [9/1,108] versus 2.3% [29/1,237]; RR 0.37; 95% CI 0.17–0.80).
Conclusions
Among women with one prior caesarean, planned ERC compared with planned VBAC was associated with a lower risk of fetal and infant death or serious infant outcome. The risk of major maternal haemorrhage was reduced with no increase in maternal or perinatal complications to time of hospital discharge. Women, clinicians, and policy makers can use this information to develop health advice and make decisions about care for women who have had a previous caesarean.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53974531
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Rates of caesarean section are rising around the world, particularly in high- and middle-income countries, where most women have a choice of how their baby is delivered. Historically, the obstetrician in charge of the woman's care made the decision on whether to perform an elective (planned) caesarean section based on medical criteria. For women who have had a previous caesarean section, typically, their options for mode of childbirth are either a trial of vaginal birth or an elective repeat caesarean section. The proportion of women attempting a vaginal birth after a previous caesarean section has been declining in many countries partly due to the variable chance of achieving a successful vaginal birth (reported between 56% and 80%) and partly because of negative reports of the risk of complications, both to the mother and the baby, of a having a vaginal delivery following a caesarean section. Consequently, the rates of repeat caesarean section have risen sharply, for example, currently 83% in Australia and almost 90% in the US.
Why Was This Study Done?
Both elective repeat caesarean section and subsequent vaginal delivery after a previous caesarean section have clinical risks and benefits. Most obviously, having a surgical procedure puts the woman having the repeat caesarean section at risk of surgical complications, especially if performed under a general anesthetic, and her baby may be at risk of respiratory complications. However, subsequent vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section may put the mother at risk of bleeding severely enough to need a blood transfusion (more than 1,500 ml blood loss) and she may also be at increased risk of rupturing her uterus; and her baby may have an increased risk of dying or of becoming brain damaged due to lack of oxygen.
However, to date there have been no randomized controlled trials of elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section to compare the health outcomes of mother and baby and a recent systematic review could draw no conclusions. So the researchers conducted this prospective cohort study based on patient preference (with a few women agreeing to be randomized to mode of delivery), to compare the health outcomes for mother and baby for elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery in women following a previous caesarean section.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2002 and 2007, the researchers recruited 2,345 suitable women (that is, women who had one previous caesarean section, were currently 37 weeks pregnant with a single baby, and who were clinically able to have a vaginal delivery) from 14 maternity hospitals throughout Australia. A few women (22) agreed to be randomized to either mode of delivery but most women chose her preferred option. Then, depending on the woman's preferences for mode of birth, participating obstetricians either scheduled a date for an elective caesarean section (1,098 women) or assessed on-going suitability for the woman to have a planned vaginal delivery (1,225 women). However only 535 (43.2%) women who chose to have a vaginal birth were able to deliver this way because of failure to progress in labor or fetal distress: 334 of these women (27.0%) had to have an elective caesarean section and 368 women had to have an emergency caesarean section.
Although no women died, women who had a planned caesarean section experienced less severe bleeding than women who delivered vaginally. There were no infant deaths in those born by elective caesarean section but two unexplained stillbirths in the planned vaginal delivery group. There was also a reduced risk of nonfatal serious outcome before discharge from hospital for infants delivered by in the elective caesarean section. The researchers calculated that one infant death or near death would be prevented for every 66 elective caesarean sections performed in women who had a previous caesarean section.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in women who had delivered by a previous caesarean section delivering their next baby by planned caesarean section was associated with less infant death and better health outcomes for the mother before she was discharged from the hospital compared to women who had a subsequent vaginal delivery. This information can be used by women, clinicians, and policy makers in helping to make decisions about the mode of subsequent deliveries and best care for women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Fitzpatrick and colleagues and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192
PMCID: PMC3302845  PMID: 22427749
2.  Uterine Rupture by Intended Mode of Delivery in the UK: A National Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001184.
A case-control study using UK data estimates the risk of uterine rupture in subsequent deliveries amongst women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Background
Recent reports of the risk of morbidity due to uterine rupture are thought to have contributed in some countries to a decrease in the number of women attempting a vaginal birth after caesarean section. The aims of this study were to estimate the incidence of true uterine rupture in the UK and to investigate and quantify the associated risk factors and outcomes, on the basis of intended mode of delivery.
Methods and Findings
A UK national case-control study was undertaken between April 2009 and April 2010. The participants comprised 159 women with uterine rupture and 448 control women with a previous caesarean delivery. The estimated incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities overall; 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities in women with a previous caesarean delivery planning vaginal or elective caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women with a previous caesarean delivery, odds of rupture were also increased in women who had ≥ two previous caesarean deliveries (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.02, 95% CI 1.16–7.85) and <12 months since their last caesarean delivery (aOR 3.12, 95% CI 1.62–6.02). A higher risk of rupture with labour induction and oxytocin use was apparent (aOR 3.92, 95% CI 1.00–15.33). Two women with uterine rupture died (case fatality 1.3%, 95% CI 0.2–4.5%). There were 18 perinatal deaths associated with uterine rupture among 145 infants (perinatal mortality 124 per 1,000 total births, 95% CI 75–189).
Conclusions
Although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, even amongst women with a previous caesarean section planning a vaginal delivery, it is a rare occurrence. For women with a previous caesarean section, risk of uterine rupture increases with number of previous caesarean deliveries, a short interval since the last caesarean section, and labour induction and/or augmentation. These factors should be considered when counselling and managing the labour of women with a previous caesarean section.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Uterine rupture is a serious complication of pregnancy in which the wall of the uterus (womb) tears during pregnancy or early labor. Signs and symptoms of uterine rupture include fetal heart rate abnormalities, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding. If uterine rupture happens during labor, the woman must have an immediate caesarean section (surgical delivery of her baby) to save both her life and that of her baby. The woman's womb and nearby organs can be damaged at rupture or removed during surgery and she may need a blood transfusion because of severe bleeding. Moreover, her baby may develop respiratory distress syndrome and other life-threatening complications. In high income countries, uterine rupture most commonly occurs in women who have delivered a previous pregnancy by caesarean section. In a caesarean section, the baby is delivered through a cut made through the abdominal wall and the uterine wall. The stretching that occurs during pregnancy or the strong contractions of labor can tear the scar left by this cut, resulting in uterine rupture.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women who have had a caesarean delivery are generally encouraged to try to deliver subsequent babies vaginally. However, recent reports of an increased risk of complications (morbidity) and death (mortality) due to uterine rupture are thought to reduce women's willingness to attempt vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) in some countries. In the UK, for example, where one in four babies is delivered by caesarean section, a previous caesarean delivery is one of commonest reasons for a repeat section. Obstetricians (doctors who care for women during child birth) need to know as much as possible about the incidence of uterine rupture and about the risk factors for it so that they can advise women who have had a previous caesarean section about their delivery options. In this national case-control study (a study that compares the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition), the researchers estimate the incidence of uterine rupture in the UK by intended mode of delivery and investigate and quantify the risk factors for and outcomes of uterine rupture.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) to identify all the women in the UK who had a uterine rupture over a 13-month period (159 women, 139 of whom had had a previous caesarean delivery). Controls for the study were women who had not had a uterine rupture but who had previously delivered by caesarean section. Overall, the incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities. In women with a previous caesarean delivery, 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities ended in uterine rupture in women planning vaginal delivery and caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women who had had a previous caesarean delivery, the risk of uterine rupture was greater among those who had had two or more previous caesarean deliveries or a caesarean delivery less than 12 months previously, or whose labor was induced. Two women died following uterine rupture (a case fatality of 1.3%) and 18 babies died around the time of birth (a perinatal mortality rate of 124 per 1,000 live births; the UK perinatal mortality rate is 7.5 per 1,000 live births). 15 of the women who had a uterine rupture had their womb removed, 10 had other organs damaged, and nearly half had other complications; 19 of the surviving babies had health problems.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the UK, although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, it is a rare occurrence even among women who have had a previous caesarean delivery and are planning a vaginal delivery. They also indicate that, for women who have previously had a caesarean section, the risk of rupture increases with the number of previous caesarean deliveries, with a short interval since the last caesarean section, and with labor induction. Although the researchers may not have identified all the women who had a uterine rupture during the study period or may have identified only the worst cases, these findings provide valuable information about the factors that obstetricians need to consider when advising women who have previously had a caesarean section and when managing their labor.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Caroline Crowther and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
Wikipedia has a page on uterine rupture (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK has information for women on birth after previous caesarean
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
A personal story of uterine rupture during an attempted VBAC is available
The UK Obstetric Surveillance System studies rare disorders of pregnancy in the UK
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184
PMCID: PMC3302846  PMID: 22427745
3.  Timing of birth for women with a twin pregnancy at term: a randomised controlled trial 
Background
There is a well recognized risk of complications for both women and infants of a twin pregnancy, increasing beyond 37 weeks gestation. Preterm birth prior to 37 weeks gestation is a recognized complication of a twin pregnancy, however, up to 50% of twins will be born after this time.
The aims of this randomised trial are to assess whether elective birth at 37 weeks gestation compared with standard care in women with a twin pregnancy affects the risk of perinatal death, and serious infant complications.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred randomised trial.
Inclusion Criteria: women with a twin pregnancy at 366 weeks or more without contraindication to continuation of pregnancy.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Following written informed consent, eligible women will be randomised from 36+6 weeks gestation. The randomisation schedule uses balanced variable blocks, with stratification for centre of birth and planned mode of birth. Women will be randomised to either elective birth or standard care.
Treatment Schedules: Women allocated to the elective birth group will be planned for elective birth from 37 weeks gestation. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve induction of labour. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section. For women allocated to standard care, birth will be planned for 38 weeks gestation or later. Where the plan is for vaginal birth, this will involve either awaiting the spontaneous onset of labour, or induction of labour if required. Where the plan is for caesarean birth, this will involve elective caesarean section (after 38 and as close to 39 weeks as possible).
Primary Study Outcome: A composite of perinatal mortality or serious neonatal morbidity.
Sample Size: 460 women with a twin pregnancy to show a reduction in the composite outcome from 16.3% to 6.7% with adjustment for the clustering of twin infants within mothers (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Discussion
This is a protocol for a randomised trial, the findings of which will contribute information about the optimal time of birth for women with an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy at and beyond 37 weeks gestation.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN15761056
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-68
PMCID: PMC2978123  PMID: 20973989
4.  Caesarean section versus vaginal delivery for preterm birth in singletons 
Background
Planned caesarean delivery for women thought be in preterm labour may be protective for baby, but could also be quite traumatic for both mother and baby. The optimal mode of delivery of preterm babies for both cephalic and breech presentation remains, therefore, controversial.
Objectives
To assess the effects of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth for women in preterm labour.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (24 April 2012).
Selection criteria
Randomised trials comparing a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal delivery for preterm birth.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
We included six studies (involving 122 women) but only four studies (involving only 116 women) contributed data to the analyses.
Infant
There were very little data of relevance to the three main (primary) outcomes considered in this review: There was no significant difference between planned immediate caesarean section and planned vaginal delivery with respect to birth injury to infant (risk ratio (RR) 0.56, 95%, confidence interval (CI) 0.05 to 5.62; one trial, 38 women) or birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; onetrial, 12 women). The only cases of birth trauma were a laceration of the buttock in a baby who was delivered by caesarean section and mild bruising in another allocated to the group delivered vaginally.
The difference between the two groups with regard to perinatal deaths was not significant (0.29, 95% CI 0.07 to 1.14; three trials, 89 women) and there were no data specifically relating to neonatal admission to special care and/or intensive care unit.
There was also no difference between the caesarean or vaginal delivery groups in terms of markers of possible birth asphyxia (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.84 to 3.14; one trial, 12 women) or Apgar score less than seven at five minutes (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.60; four trials, 115 women) and no difference in attempts at breastfeeding (RR 1.40, 95% 0.11 to 17.45; one trial, 12 women). There was also no difference in neonatal fitting/seizures (RR 0.22, 95% CI 0.01 to 4.32; three trials, 77 women), hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (RR 4.00, 95% CI 0.20 to 82.01;one trial, 12 women) or respiratory distress syndrome (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.27 to 1.10; three trials, 103 women). There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to meconium aspiration. There was also no significant difference between the two groups for abnormal follow-up in childhood (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.19 to 2.22; one trial, 38 women) or delivery less than seven days after entry (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.24; two trials, 51 women).
Mother
There were no data reported on maternal admissions to intensive care. However, there were seven cases of major maternal postpartum complications in the group allocated to planned immediate caesarean section and none in the group randomised to vaginal delivery (RR 7.21, 95% CI 1.37 to 38.08; four trials, 116 women).
There were no data reported in the trials specifically relating to maternal satisfaction (postnatal). There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to postpartum haemorrhage. A number of non-prespecified secondary outcomes were also considered in the analyses. There was a significant advantage for women in the vaginal delivery group with respect to maternal puerperal pyrexia (RR 2.98, 95% CI 1.18 to 7.53; three trials, 89 women) and other maternal infection (RR 2.63, 95% CI 1.02 to 6.78; three trials, 103 women), but no significant differences in wound infection (RR 1.16, 95% CI 0.18 to 7.70; three trials, 103 women), maternal stay more than 10 days (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.35 to 4.65; three trials, 78 women) or the need for blood transfusion (results not estimable).
Authors’ conclusions
There is not enough evidence to evaluate the use of a policy of planned immediate caesarean delivery for preterm babies. Further studies are needed in this area, but recruitment is proving difficult.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000078.pub2
PMCID: PMC4164504  PMID: 22696314
*Delivery, Obstetric; *Obstetric Labor, Premature; Birth Injuries [etiology]; Cesarean Section [adverse effects]; Infant, Newborn; Infant, Premature; Infant, Small for Gestational Age; Perinatal Mortality; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Surgical Procedures, Elective; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
5.  Planned Repeat Cesarean Section at Term and Adverse Childhood Health Outcomes: A Record-Linkage Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(3):e1001973.
Background
Global cesarean section (CS) rates range from 1% to 52%, with a previous CS being the commonest indication. Labour following a previous CS carries risk of scar rupture, with potential for offspring hypoxic brain injury, leading to high rates of repeat elective CS. However, the effect of delivery by CS on long-term outcomes in children is unclear. Increasing evidence suggests that in avoiding exposure to maternal bowel flora during labour or vaginal birth, offspring delivered by CS may be adversely affected in terms of energy uptake from the gut and immune development, increasing obesity and asthma risks, respectively. This study aimed to address the evidence gap on long-term childhood outcomes following repeat CS by comparing adverse childhood health outcomes after (1) planned repeat CS and (2) unscheduled repeat CS with those that follow vaginal birth after CS (VBAC).
Methods and Findings
A data-linkage cohort study was performed. All second-born, term, singleton offspring delivered between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2007 in Scotland, UK, to women with a history of CS (n = 40,145) were followed up until 31 January 2015. Outcomes assessed included obesity at age 5 y, hospitalisation with asthma, learning disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Cox regression and binary logistic regression were used as appropriate to compare outcomes following planned repeat CS (n = 17,919) and unscheduled repeat CS (n = 8,847) with those following VBAC (n = 13,379).
Risk of hospitalisation with asthma was greater following both unscheduled repeat CS (3.7% versus 3.3%, adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 1.18, 95% CI 1.05–1.33) and planned repeat CS (3.6% versus 3.3%, adjusted HR 1.24, 95% CI 1.09–1.42) compared with VBAC. Learning disability and death were more common following unscheduled repeat CS compared with VBAC (3.7% versus 2.3%, adjusted odds ratio 1.64, 95% CI 1.17–2.29, and 0.5% versus 0.4%, adjusted HR 1.50, 95% CI 1.00–2.25, respectively). Risk of obesity at age 5 y and risk of cerebral palsy were similar between planned repeat CS or unscheduled repeat CS and VBAC. Study limitations include the risk that women undergoing an unscheduled CS had intended to have a planned CS, and lack of data on indication for CS, which may confound the findings.
Conclusions
Birth by repeat CS, whether planned or unscheduled, was associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation with asthma but no difference in risk of obesity at age 5 y. Greater risk of death and learning disability following unscheduled repeat CS compared to VBAC may reflect complications during labour. Further research, including meta-analyses of studies of rarer outcomes (e.g., cerebral palsy), are needed to confirm whether such risks are similar between delivery groups.
Editors' Summary
Background
Women who have had a previous cesarean section (CS) face a slightly elevated risk of negative outcomes during a subsequent vaginal birth. This is because, in rare cases, the abdominal CS scar ruptures during labor, which may cause complications and serious problems, such as oxygen deprivation to the brain of a child. As a result, pregnant women who have had a previous CS and their doctors sometimes make a decision to plan a repeat CS instead of a vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC). Besides vaginal birth being “more natural,” some studies have suggested that exposure to the mother’s microbiome (the bacteria and fungi that live in the vagina and gut) in the birth canal might be important for the healthy development of the infant’s own microbiome and its immune system. Consistent with this notion, some studies have reported higher levels of allergies (including eczema and asthma) and overweight or obesity in children born by CS.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scotland keeps detailed records of births and childhood health data, which allow researchers to study possible links between type of birth and subsequent childhood health outcomes. In this study, the researchers focused on singleton births (as opposed to twins, triplets, etc.) to mothers who have had a previous CS. In this group, where the decision about a preferred delivery mode is likely made before labor starts, they examined how childhood health outcomes compared between repeat CS and VBAC.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied all second births between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2007 of singleton children to mothers in Scotland who had previously had a first child born by CS. Using available health records, they categorized these second births into scheduled repeat CS (assumed to be planned), unscheduled repeat CS, and VBAC. They then examined the childrens’ health records until 31 January 2015 and looked for correlations between type of birth and the following outcomes: obesity at age five years, hospitalization with asthma, prescription of a salbutamol inhaler (an asthma medication) at age five, hospitalization with inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, learning disability, cerebral palsy, cancer, and death.
Of 40,145 births that took place, 44.6% were scheduled repeat CS, 22.1% were unscheduled repeat CS, and 33.3% were VBAC. The only consistent difference the researchers found between repeat CS (scheduled or unscheduled) and VBAC was a slightly elevated risk for hospitalization with asthma in children born by CS. They felt that this was not clinically significant, especially as there was no difference in the rate of salbutamol inhaler prescription. The risk of obesity at age five was similar between children born by repeat CS (scheduled or unscheduled) and those born by VBAC. Learning disability and death were more common following unscheduled repeat CS, but not scheduled repeat CS, than following VBAC.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Overall, the right decision about a planned birth mode, vaginal or cesarean, depends on the individual case of mother and child. If mothers with a previous CS plan a vaginal birth, they should do so in a hospital that is prepared to perform a CS at short notice in case of scar rupture. The findings here suggest that there are no substantially worse outcomes associated with planned repeat cesarean births. They therefore support a process of planning birth after a previous CS that reflects a woman’s values and preferences. Whether the births analyzed in this study were initially planned to be vaginal or CS is not known. The researchers assumed an intended CS was one that was scheduled ahead of time and performed on the scheduled date. All other CSs were categorized as unplanned and likely represent a mix of emergency CS ahead of a planned CS and emergency CS after complications during a planned vaginal birth. The reasons for the observed higher risk of learning disability and death following unscheduled repeat CS are not clear because the records did not include the indication (i.e., the medical reason) for a CS, but the results are consistent with the known higher risk of an emergency CS to mothers and children.
The risks and benefits of different birth modes, especially in view of exposure to the mother’s microbiome, are active areas of research. The results here disagree with some earlier studies in different settings, but these were unable to adjust for some factors that can affect child health that are taken into account here, such as whether mothers were obese, smoked, or had asthma. The findings of this study are consistent with a study by the same researchers that analyzed all singleton first births from the Scottish health records and found slightly increased asthma rates, but no increased obesity or type 1 diabetes, in young children who had been delivered by CS compared with those who had a vaginal birth.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001973.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK has a practice guideline and patient information leaflet on birth after cesarean section
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a practice bulletin for vaginal birth after previous cesarean delivery, women’s health resources related to vaginal birth after cesarean, and women’s health resources related to cesarean section in general
Wikipedia has a page on delivery after previous cesarean section (note that Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has a statement on birth after previous cesarean section
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has a clinical practice guideline on delivery after cesarean section
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001973
PMCID: PMC4792387  PMID: 26978456
6.  VAGINAL BIRTH AFTER A PREVIOUS CAESAREAN SECTION: CURRENT TRENDS AND OUTLOOK IN GHANA  
Abstract
Background
The optimal mode of subsequent delivery of women with prior caesarean birth remains a subject of intense research and debate in contemporary obstetric practice especially in low resource settings like West Africa where there are obvious systemic and management-related challenges associated with trial of scar. However, there is evidence that vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) is safe in appropriately selected women in addition to adequate intrapartum monitoring and ready access to theatre when emergency CS is indicated.
Aim & Objectives
The primary objective of the study was to determine the current trends and performance of VBAC in Ghana after decades of practice of trial of labour after caesarean section (TOLAC) in the mist of inherent challenges in deciding the optimal mode of childbirth for women with a previous caesarean birth. The secondary objective was to relate evidence based practice of TOLAC to obstetric practice in low resource settings like Ghana and provide recommendations for improving maternal and newborn health among women with prior caesarean birth
Patients & Methods:
This was a retrospective study of the records of patients who had had a prior caesarean delivery and who then proceeded to deliver the next babies at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) between Jan 2010 and Dec 2014. The data on demography, antenatal care, labour and delivery and outcomes were collected from the Labour and Recovery wards and the Biostatistics unit of the Maternity unit of the Hospital. Excluded were women with a previous CS who had multiple pregnancies and those with incomplete notes as well as those whose delivery plans were not predetermined antenatally.. The data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.
Results
There were 53,581 deliveries during the study period. Vaginal delivery was obtained in 31,870 (59.5%) pregnancies and 21,711(40.5%) had CS. Also, 6261 (11.7%) had had a prior CS and 2472 (39.5%) of these were selected for TOLAC while 2119 (33.8) were scheduled for planned repeat CS. There was an inverse trend between the annual caesarean sections rates and the proportion of women with one previous CS scheduled for TOLAC. There was a statistically significant difference between women who had successful or failed VBAC regarding maternal age, parity, number of ANC visits, gestational age at delivery, birth weight, Apgar score at 1 min and Apgar score at 5 min. Birth weights of less than 1.5kg, and 3.5Kg or greater were associated significantly with higher incidence failed TOLAC and emergency repeat CS. However, birth weights ranging from 2.0 to 3.49kg were associated with significantly lower incidence of failed TOLAC and emergency repeat CS. Birth weight of 2.5-2.99kg was associated with the lowest incidence of failed TOLAC and repeat CS.
Conclusion
. There is a significantly high vaginal birth after caesarian section (VBAC) success rate among carefully selected women undergoing trial of scar in Ghana although a decreasing trend towards trial of labor after caesarian section (TOLAC) and a rising CS rate were determined. TOLAC remains a viable option for child birth in low resource settings like West Africa even though there are specific clinical and management related challenges to overcome. Adequate patient education and counselling in addition to appropriate patient selection for TOLAC remains the cornerstone to achieving high VBAC success rate with minimal adverse outcomes in such settings.
PMCID: PMC4500772  PMID: 26587520
VBAC; TOLAC; Trend; Good outcome; Ghana
7.  Does continuity of care impact decision making in the next birth after a caesarean section (VBAC)? a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Caesarean section (CS) has short and long-term health effects for both the woman and her baby. One of the greatest contributors to the CS rate is elective repeat CS. Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) is an option for many women; despite this the proportion of women attempting VBAC remains low. Potentially the relationship that women have with their healthcare professional may have a major influence on the uptake of VBAC. Models of service delivery, which enable an individual approach to care, may make a difference to the uptake of VBAC. Midwifery continuity of care could be an effective model to encourage and support women to choose VBAC.
Methods/Design
A randomised, controlled trial will be undertaken. Eligible pregnant women, whose most recent previous birth was by lower-segment CS, will be randomly allocated 1:1 to an intervention group or control group. The intervention provides midwifery continuity of care to women through pregnancy, labour, birth and early postnatal care. The control group will receive standard hospital care from different midwives through pregnancy, labour, birth and early postnatal care. Both groups will receive an obstetric consultation during pregnancy and at any other time if required. Clinical care will follow the same guidelines in both groups.
Discussion
This study will determine whether midwifery continuity of care influences the decision to attempt a VBAC and impacts on mode of birth, maternal experiences with care and the health of the neonate. Outcomes from this study might influence the way maternity care is provided to this group of women and thus impact on the CS rate. This information will provide high level evidence to policy makers, health service managers and practitioners who are working towards addressing the increased rate of CS.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12611001214921
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-140
PMCID: PMC3717054  PMID: 23819882
Vaginal birth; Obstetrics; Caesarean section; Midwifery care; Vaginal birth after caesarean
8.  Caesarean section for non-medical reasons at term 
Background
Caesarean section rates are progressively rising in many parts of the world. One suggested reason is increasing requests by women for caesarean section in the absence of clear medical indications, such as placenta praevia, HIV infection, contracted pelvis and, arguably, breech presentation or previous caesarean section. The reported benefits of planned caesarean section include greater safety for the baby, less pelvic floor trauma for the mother, avoidance of labour pain and convenience. The potential disadvantages, from observational studies, include increased risk of major morbidity or mortality for the mother, adverse psychological sequelae, and problems in subsequent pregnancies, including uterine scar rupture and a greater risk of stillbirth and neonatal morbidity. The differences in neonatal physiology following vaginal and caesarean births are thought to have implications for the infant, with caesarean section potentially increasing the risk of compromised health in both the short and the long term. An unbiased assessment of advantages and disadvantages would assist discussion of what has become a contentious issue in modern obstetrics.
Objectives
To assess, from randomised trials, the effects on perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, and on maternal psychological morbidity, of planned caesarean delivery versus planned vaginal birth in women with no clear clinical indication for caesarean section.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (31 January 2012) and reference lists of relevant studies.
Selection criteria
All comparisons of intention to perform caesarean section and intention for women to give birth vaginally; random allocation to treatment and control groups; adequate allocation concealment; women at term with single fetuses with cephalic presentations and no clear medical indication for caesarean section.
Data collection and analysis
We identified no studies that met the inclusion criteria.
Main results
There were no included trials.
Authors’ conclusions
There is no evidence from randomised controlled trials, upon which to base any practice recommendations regarding planned caesarean section for non-medical reasons at term. In the absence of trial data, there is an urgent need for a systematic review of observational studies and a synthesis of qualitative data to better assess the short- and long-term effects of caesarean section and vaginal birth.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004660.pub3
PMCID: PMC4171389  PMID: 22419296
*Cesarean Section [adverse effects; psychology]; *Term Birth; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
9.  The utility of clinical care pathways in determining perinatal outcomes for women with one previous caesarean section; a retrospective service evaluation 
Background
The rising rates of primary caesarean section have resulted in a larger obstetric population with scarred uteri. Subsequent pregnancies in these women are risk-prone and may complicate. Besides ensuring standardised management, care pathways could be used to evaluate for perinatal outcomes in these high risk pregnancies. We aim to demonstrate the use of a care pathway for vaginal birth after caesarean section as a service evaluation tool to determine perinatal outcomes.
Methods
A retrospective service evaluation by review of delivery case notes and records was undertaken at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya between January 2008 and December 2009
Women with ≥2 previous caesarean sections, previous classical caesarean section, multiple gestation, breech presentation, severe pre-eclampsia, transverse lie, placenta praevia, conditions requiring induction of labour and incomplete records were excluded. Outcome measures included the proportion of eligible women who opted for test of scar (ToS), success rate of vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC); proportion on women opting for elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS) and their perinatal outcomes.
Results
A total of 215 women with one previous caesarean section were followed up using a standard care pathway. The median parity (minimum-maximum) was 1.0[1-4]. The other demographic characteristics were comparable. Only 44.6% of eligible mothers opted to have a ToS. The success rate for VBAC was 49.4% with the commonest (31.8%) reason for failure being protracted active phase of labour. Maternal morbidity was comparable for the failed and successful VBAC group. The incidence of hemorrhage was 2.3% and 4.4% for the successful and failed VBAC groups respectively. The proportion of babies with acidotic arterial PH (< 7.10) was 3.1% and 22.2% among the successful and failed VBAC groups respectively. No perinatal mortality was reported.
Conclusions
Besides ensuring standardised management, care pathways could be objective audit and service evaluation tools for determining perinatal outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-62
PMCID: PMC2964563  PMID: 20946628
10.  Planned caesarean section for women with a twin pregnancy 
Background
Twin pregnancies are associated with increased perinatal mortality, mainly related to prematurity, but complications during birth may contribute to perinatal loss or morbidity. The option of planned caesarean section to avoid such complications must therefore be considered. On the other hand, randomised trials of other clinical interventions in the birth process to avoid problems related to labour and birth (planned caesarean section for breech, and continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring), have shown an unexpected discordance between short-term perinatal morbidity and long-term neurological outcome. The risks of caesarean section for the mother in the current and subsequent pregnancies must also be taken into account.
Objectives
To determine the short- and long-term effects on mothers and their babies, of planned caesarean section for twin pregnancy.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (30 September 2011).
Selection criteria
Randomised trials comparing a policy of caesarean section with planned vaginal birth for women with twin pregnancy.
Data collection and analysis
Two researchers independently assessed eligibility, quality and extracted data. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
One small trial with unconfirmed allocation concealment compared caesarean section with planned vaginal birth in 60 women with vertex/non-vertex twin pregnancies. There were no differences in perinatal outcome. The trial was too small to exclude the possibility of clinically meaningful benefits of either approach. There is one additional trial currently ongoing.
Authors’ conclusions
There is a lack of robust evidence to guide clinical advice regarding the method of birth for twin pregnancies. Women should be informed of possible benefits and risks of either approach, including short-term and long-term consequences for both mother and babies. Future research should aim to provide unbiased evidence, including long-term outcomes.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006553.pub2
PMCID: PMC4110647  PMID: 22161406
*Pregnancy Outcome; *Pregnancy; Twin; Cesarean Section [adverse effects; *methods]; Female; Humans; Pregnancy
11.  Rate of spontaneous onset of labour before planned repeat caesarean section at term 
Background
Guidelines recommend that, in the absence of compelling medical indications (low risk) elective caesarean section should occur after 38 completed weeks gestation. However, implementation of these guidelines will mean some women go into labour before the planned date resulting in an intrapartum caesarean section. The aim of this study was to determine the rate at which low-risk women planned for repeat caesarean section go into spontaneous labour before 39 weeks.
Methods
We conducted a population-based cohort study of women who were planned to have an elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS) at 39-41 weeks gestation in New South Wales Australia, 2007-2010. Labour, delivery and health outcome information was obtained from linked birth and hospital records for the entire population. Women with no pre-existing medical or pregnancy complications were categorized as ‘low risk’. The rate of spontaneous labour before 39 weeks was determined and variation in the rate for subgroups of women was examined using univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results
Of 32,934 women who had ERCS as the reported indication for caesarean section, 17,314 (52.6%) were categorised as ‘low-risk’. Of these women, 1,473 (8.5% or 1 in 12) had spontaneous labour or prelabour rupture of the membranes before 39 weeks resulting in an intrapartum caesarean section. However the risk of labour <39 weeks varied depending on previous delivery history: 25% (1 in 4) for those with spontaneous preterm labour in a prior pregnancy; 15% (1 in 7) for women with a prior planned preterm birth (by labour induction or prelabour caesarean) and 6% (1 in 17) among those who had only previously had a planned caesarean section at term. Smoking in pregnancy was also associated with spontaneous labour. Women with spontaneous labour prior to a planned CS in the index pregnancy were at increased risk of out-of-hours delivery, and maternal and neonatal morbidity.
Conclusions
These findings allow clinicians to more accurately determine the likelihood that a planned caesarean section may become an intrapartum caesarean section, and to advise their patients accordingly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-125
PMCID: PMC3975468  PMID: 24694261
Cohort study; Elective repeat caesarean section; Labour; Record linkage
12.  Variation in hospital caesarean section rates for women with at least one previous caesarean section: a population based cohort study 
Background
Internationally, repeat caesarean sections make the largest contribution to overall caesarean section rates and inter-hospital variation has been reported. The aim of this study was to determine if casemix and hospital factors explain variation in hospital rates of repeat caesarean sections and whether these rates are associated with maternal and neonatal morbidity.
Methods
This population-based record linkage study utilised data from New South Wales, Australia between 2007 and 2011. The study population included maternities with any previous caesarean section(s) and were singleton, cephalic and ≥37 weeks’ gestation (Robson Group 5). Multilevel regression models were used to examine variation in hospital rates of ‘planned repeat caesarean section’ and, among women who planned a vaginal birth, ‘intrapartum caesarean section’. We assessed associations between risk-adjusted hospital rates of planned and intrapartum caesarean sections and rates of casemix adjusted maternal and neonatal morbidity, postpartum haemorrhage and Apgar score <7 at five minutes.
Results
Of 61894 maternities with a previous caesarean section in 81 hospitals, 82.1 % resulted in a caesarean section (72.7 % planned and 9.4 % unplanned intrapartum caesareans) and 17.9 % in vaginal birth. Observed hospital rates of planned caesarean sections ranged from 50.7 % to 98.4 %. Overall 49.0 % of between-hospital variation in planned repeat caesarean section rates was explained by patient (17.3 %) and hospital factors (31.7 %). Increased odds of planned caesarean section were associated with private hospital status and lower hospital propensity for vaginal birth after caesarean. There were no associations between hospital rates of planned repeat caesarean section and adjusted morbidity rates. Among women who intended a vaginal birth, the observed rates of intrapartum caesarean section ranged from 12.9 % to 71.9 %. In total, 27.5 % of between-hospital variation in rates of intrapartum caesarean section was explained by patient (19.5 %) and hospital factors (8.0 %). The adjusted morbidity rates differed among hospital intrapartum caesarean section rates, but were influenced by a few hospitals with outlying morbidity rates.
Conclusions
Among women with at least one previous caesarean section, less than half of the variation in hospital caesarean section rates was explained by differences in hospital’s patient characteristics and practices. Strategies aimed at modifying caesarean section rates for these women should not affect morbidity rates.
doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0609-x
PMCID: PMC4545707  PMID: 26285692
13.  Outcomes of Induction of Labour in Women with Previous Caesarean Delivery: A Retrospective Cohort Study Using a Population Database 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60404.
Background
There is evidence that induction of labour (IOL) around term reduces perinatal mortality and caesarean delivery rates when compared to expectant management of pregnancy (allowing the pregnancy to continue to await spontaneous labour or definitive indication for delivery). However, it is not clear whether IOL in women with a previous caesarean section confers the same benefits. The aim of this study was to describe outcomes of IOL at 39–41 weeks in women with one previous caesarean delivery and to compare outcomes of IOL or planned caesarean delivery to those of expectant management.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study of singleton births greater than 39 weeks gestation, in women with one previous caesarean delivery, in Scotland, UK 1981–2007 (n = 46,176). Outcomes included mode of delivery, perinatal mortality, neonatal unit admission, postpartum hemorrhage and uterine rupture. 40.1% (2,969/7,401) of women who underwent IOL 39–41 weeks were ultimately delivered by caesarean. When compared to expectant management IOL was associated with lower odds of caesarean delivery (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] after IOL at 39 weeks of 0.81 [95% CI 0.71–0.91]). There was no significant effect on the odds of perinatal mortality but greater odds of neonatal unit admission (AOR after IOL at 39 weeks of 1.29 [95% CI 1.08–1.55]). In contrast, when compared with expectant management, elective repeat caesarean delivery was associated with lower perinatal mortality (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.23 [95% CI 0.07–0.75]) and, depending on gestation, the same or lower neonatal unit admission (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.98 [0.90–1.07] at 40 weeks of 1.08 [0.94–1.23] and at 41 weeks of 0.77 [0.60–1.00]).
Conclusions
A more liberal policy of IOL in women with previous caesarean delivery may reduce repeat caesarean delivery, but increases the risks of neonatal complications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060404
PMCID: PMC3615029  PMID: 23565242
14.  Pathways to a rising caesarean section rate: a population-based cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001725.
Objectives
To determine whether the obstetric pathways leading to caesarean section changed from one decade to another. We also aimed to explore how much of the increase in caesarean rate could be attributed to maternal and pregnancy factors including a shift towards delivery in private hospitals.
Design
Population-based record linkage cohort study.
Setting
New South Wales, Australia.
Participants
For annual rates, all women giving birth in NSW during 1994 to 2009 were included. To examine changes in obstetric pathways two cohorts were compared: all women with a first-birth during either 1994–1997 (82 988 women) or 2001–2004 (85 859 women) and who had a second (sequential) birth within 5 years of their first-birth.
Primary outcome measures
Caesarean section rates, by parity and onset of labour.
Results
For first-births, prelabour and intrapartum caesarean rates increased from 1994 to 2009, with intrapartum rates rising from 6.5% to 11.7%. This fed into repeat caesarean rates; from 2003, over 18% of all multiparous births were prelabour repeat caesareans. In the 1994–1997 cohort, 17.7% of women had a caesarean delivery for their first-birth. For their second birth, the vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) rate was 28%. In the 2001–2004 cohort, 26.1% of women had a caesarean delivery for their first-birth and the VBAC rate was 16%. Among women with a first-birth, maternal and pregnancy factors and increasing deliveries in private hospitals, only explained 24% of the rise in caesarean rates from 1994 to 2009.
Conclusions
Rising first-birth caesarean rates drove the overall increase. Maternal factors and changes in public/private care could explain only a quarter of the increase. Changes in the perceived risks of vaginal birth versus caesarean delivery may be influencing the pregnancy management decisions of clinicians and/or mothers.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001725
PMCID: PMC3437430  PMID: 22952166
OBSTETRICS; Maternal medicine; Statistics & Research Methods; SURGERY; Adult surgery
15.  Improving the organisation of maternal health service delivery and optimising childbirth by increasing vaginal birth after caesarean section through enhanced women-centred care (OptiBIRTH trial): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (ISRCTN10612254) 
Trials  2015;16:542.
Background
The proportion of pregnant women who have a caesarean section shows a wide variation across Europe, and concern exists that these proportions are increasing. Much of the increase in caesarean sections in recent years is due to a cascade effect in which a woman who has had one caesarean section is much more likely to have one again if she has another baby. In some places, it has become common practice for a woman who has had a caesarean section to have this procedure again as a matter of routine. The alternative, vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), which has been widely recommended, results in fewer undesired results or complications and is the preferred option for most women. However, VBAC rates in some countries are much lower than in other countries.
Methods/Design
The OptiBIRTH trial uses a cluster randomised design to test a specially developed approach to try to improve the VBAC rate. It will attempt to increase VBAC rates from 25 % to 40 % through increased women-centred care and women’s involvement in their care. Sixteen hospitals in Germany, Ireland and Italy agreed to join the study, and each hospital was randomly allocated to be either an intervention or a control site.
Discussion
If the OptiBIRTH intervention succeeds in increasing VBAC rates, its application across Europe might avoid the 160,000 unnecessary caesarean sections that occur every year at an extra direct annual cost of more than €150 million.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN10612254, registered 3 April 2013.
doi:10.1186/s13063-015-1061-y
PMCID: PMC4666170  PMID: 26620402
16.  Induction of labour versus expectant management for nulliparous women over 35 years of age: a multi-centre prospective, randomised controlled trial 
Background
British women are increasingly delaying childbirth. The proportion giving birth over the age of 35 rose from 12% in 1996 to 20% in 2006. Women over this age are at a higher risk of perinatal death, and antepartum stillbirth accounts for 61% of all such deaths. Women over 40 years old have a similar stillbirth risk at 39 weeks as women who are between 25 and 29 years old have at 41 weeks.
Many obstetricians respond to this by suggesting labour induction at term to forestall some of the risk. In a national survey of obstetricians 37% already induce women aged 40–44 years. A substantial minority of parents support such a policy, but others do not on the grounds that it might increase the risk of Caesarean section. However trials of induction in other high-risk scenarios have not shown any increase in Caesarean sections, rather the reverse. If induction for women over 35 did not increase Caesareans, or even reduced them, it would plausibly improve perinatal outcome and be an acceptable intervention. We therefore plan to perform a trial to test the effect of such an induction policy on Caesarean section rates.
This trial is funded by the NHS Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme.
Design
The 35/39 trial is a multi-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial. It is being run in twenty UK centres and we aim to recruit 630 nulliparous women (315 per group) aged over 35 years of age, over two years. Women will be randomly allocated to one of two groups:
Induction of labour between 390/7 and 396/7 weeks gestation.
Expectant management i.e. awaiting spontaneous onset of labour unless a situation develops necessitating either induction of labour or Caesarean Section.
The primary purpose of this trial is to establish what effect a policy of induction of labour at 39 weeks for nulliparous women of advanced maternal age has on the rate of Caesarean section deliveries. The secondary aim is to act as a pilot study for a trial to answer the question, does induction of labour in this group of women improve perinatal outcomes? Randomisation will occur at 360/7 – 396/7 weeks gestation via a computerised randomisation programme at the Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham. There will be no blinding to treatment allocation.
Discussion
The 35/39 trial is powered to detect an effect of induction of labour on the risk of caesarean section, it is underpowered to determine whether it improves perinatal outcome. The current study will also act as a pilot for a larger study to address this question.
Trial registration
ISRCTN11517275
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-145
PMCID: PMC3560256  PMID: 23231750
Induction of labour; Advanced maternal age; Perinatal outcome; Caesarean delivery
17.  Maternal and neonatal factors associated with mode of delivery under a universal newborn hearing screening programme in Lagos, Nigeria 
Background
Emerging evidence from a recent pilot universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) programme suggests that the burden of obstetric complications associated with mode of delivery is not limited to maternal and perinatal mortality but may also include outcomes that undermine optimal early childhood development of the surviving newborns. However, the potential pathways for this association have not been reported particularly in the context of a resource-poor setting. This study therefore set out to establish the pattern of delivery and the associated neonatal outcomes under a UNHS programme.
Methods
A cross-sectional study in which all consenting mothers who delivered in an inner-city tertiary maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria from May 2005 to December 2007 were enrolled during the UNHS programme. Socio-demographic, obstetric and neonatal factors independently associated with vaginal, elective and emergency caesarean deliveries were determined using multinomial logistic regression analyses.
Results
Of the 4615 mothers enrolled, 2584 (56.0%) deliveries were vaginal, 1590 (34.4%) emergency caesarean and 441 (9.6%) elective caesarean section. Maternal age, parity, social class and all obstetric factors including lack of antenatal care, maternal HIV and multiple gestations were associated with increased risk of emergency caesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery. Only parity, lack of antenatal care and prolonged/obstructed labour were associated with increased risk of emergency compared with elective caesarean delivery. Infants delivered by vaginal method or by emergency caesarean section were more likely to be associated with the risk of sensorineural hearing loss but less likely to be associated with hyperbilirubinaemia compared with infants delivered by elective caesarean section. Emergency caesarean delivery was also associated with male gender, low five-minute Apgar scores and admission into special care baby unit compared with vaginal or elective caesarean delivery.
Conclusions
The vast majority of caesarean delivery in this population occur as emergencies and are associated with socio-demographic factors as well as several obstetric complications. Mode of delivery is also associated with the risk of sensorineural hearing loss and other adverse birth outcomes that lie on the causal pathways for potential developmental deficits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-41
PMCID: PMC2749799  PMID: 19732443
18.  In Vitro Fertilization and Multiple Pregnancies 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this health technology policy assessment was to determine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of IVF for infertility treatment, as well as the role of IVF in reducing the rate of multiple pregnancies.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Typically defined as a failure to conceive after a year of regular unprotected intercourse, infertility affects 8% to 16% of reproductive age couples. The condition can be caused by disruptions at various steps of the reproductive process. Major causes of infertility include abnormalities of sperm, tubal obstruction, endometriosis, ovulatory disorder, and idiopathic infertility. Depending on the cause and patient characteristics, management options range from pharmacologic treatment to more advanced techniques referred to as assisted reproductive technologies (ART). ART include IVF and IVF-related procedures such as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and, according to some definitions, intra-uterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination. Almost invariably, an initial step in ART is controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), which leads to a significantly higher rate of multiple pregnancies after ART compared with that following natural conception. Multiple pregnancies are associated with a broad range of negative consequences for both mother and fetuses. Maternal complications include increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia, polyhydramnios, gestational diabetes, fetal malpresentation requiring Caesarean section, postpartum haemorrhage, and postpartum depression. Babies from multiple pregnancies are at a significantly higher risk of early death, prematurity, and low birth weight, as well as mental and physical disabilities related to prematurity. Increased maternal and fetal morbidity leads to higher perinatal and neonatal costs of multiple pregnancies, as well as subsequent lifelong costs due to disabilities and an increased need for medical and social support.
The Technology Being Reviewed
IVF was first developed as a method to overcome bilateral Fallopian tube obstruction. The procedure includes several steps: (1) the woman’s egg is retrieved from the ovaries; (2) exposed to sperm outside the body and fertilized; (3) the embryo(s) is cultured for 3 to 5 days; and (4) is transferred back to the uterus. IFV is considered to be one of the most effective treatments for infertility today. According to data from the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technology Registry, the average live birth rate after IVF in Canada is around 30%, but there is considerable variation in the age of the mother and primary cause of infertility.
An important advantage of IVF is that it allows for the control of the number of embryos transferred. An elective single embryo transfer in IVF cycles adopted in many European countries was shown to significantly reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies while maintaining acceptable birth rates. However, when number of embryos transferred is not limited, the rate of IVF-associated multiple pregnancies is similar to that of other treatments involving ovarian stimulation. The practice of multiple embryo transfer in IVF is often the result of pressures to increase success rates due to the high costs of the procedure. The average rate of multiple pregnancies resulting from IVF in Canada is currently around 30%.
An alternative to IVF is IUI. In spite of reported lower success rates of IUI (pregnancy rates per cycle range from 8.7% to 17.1%) it is generally attempted before IVF due to its lower invasiveness and cost.
Two major drawbacks of IUI are that it cannot be used in cases of bilateral tubal obstruction and it does not allow much control over the risk of multiple pregnancies compared with IVF. The rate of multiple pregnancies after IUI with COS is estimated to be about 21% to 29%.
Ontario Health Insurance Plan Coverage
Currently, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers the cost of IVF for women with bilaterally blocked Fallopian tubes only, in which case it is funded for 3 cycles, excluding the cost of drugs. The cost of IUI is covered except for preparation of the sperm and drugs used for COS.
Diffusion of Technology
According to Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technology Registry data, in 2004 there were 25 infertility clinics across Canada offering IVF and 7,619 IVF cycles performed. In Ontario, there are 13 infertility clinics with about 4,300 IVF cycles performed annually.
Literature Review
Royal Commission Report on Reproductive Technologies
The 1993 release of the Royal Commission report on reproductive technologies, Proceed With Care, resulted in the withdrawal of most IVF funding in Ontario, where prior to 1994 IVF was fully funded. Recommendations of the Commission to withdraw IVF funding were largely based on findings of the systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published before 1990. The review showed IVF effectiveness only in cases of bilateral tubal obstruction. As for nontubal causes of infertility, there was not enough evidence to establish whether IVF was effective or not.
Since the field of reproductive technology is constantly evolving, there have been several changes since the publication of the Royal Commission report. These changes include: increased success rates of IVF; introduction of ICSI in the early 1990’s as a treatment for male factor infertility; and improved embryo implantation rates allowing for the transfer of a single embryo to avoid multiple pregnancies after IVF.
Studies After the Royal Commission Report: Review Strategy
Three separate literature reviews were conducted in the following areas: clinical effectiveness of IVF, cost-effectiveness of IVF, and outcomes of single embryo transfer (SET) in IVF cycles.
Clinical effectiveness of IVF: RCTs or meta-analyses of RCTs that compared live birth rates after IVF versus alternative treatments, where the cause of infertility was clearly stated or it was possible to stratify the outcome by the cause of infertility.
Cost effectiveness of IVF: All relevant economic studies comparing IVF to alternative methods of treatment were reviewed
Outcomes of IVF with SET: RCTs or meta-analyses of RCTs that compared live birth rates and multiple birth rates associated with transfer of single versus double embryos.
OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment database, and websites of other health technology assessment agencies were searched using specific subject headings and keywords to identify relevant studies.
Summary of Findings
Comparative Clinical Effectiveness of IVF
Overall, there is a lack of well composed RCTs in this area and considerable diversity in both definition and measurement of outcomes exists between trials. Many studies used fertility or pregnancy rates instead of live birth rates. Moreover, the denominator for rate calculation varied from study to study (e.g. rates were calculated per cycle started, per cycle completed, per couple, etc...).
Nevertheless, few studies of sufficient quality were identified and categorized by the cause of infertility and existing alternatives to IVF. The following are the key findings:
A 2005 meta-analysis demonstrated that, in patients with idiopathic infertility, IVF was clearly superior to expectant management, but there were no statistically significant differences in live birth rates between IVF and IUI, nor between IVF and gamete-intra-Fallopian transfer.
A subset of data from a 2000 study showed no significant differences in pregnancy rates between IVF and IUI for moderate male factor infertility.
In patients with moderate male factor infertility, standard IVF was also compared with ICSI in a 2002 meta-analysis. All studies included in the meta-analysis showed superior fertilization rates with ICSI, and the pooled risk ratio for oocyte fertilization was 1.9 (95% Confidence Interval 1.4-2.5) in favour of ICSI. Two other RCTs in this area published after the 2002 meta-analysis had similar results and further confirmed these findings. There were no RCTs comparing IVF with ICSI in patients with severe male factor infertility, mainly because based on the expert opinion, ICSI might only be an effective treatment for severe male factor infertility.
Cost-Effectiveness of IVF
Five economic evaluations of IVF were found, including one comprehensive systematic review of 57 health economic studies. The studies compared cost-effectiveness of IVF with a number of alternatives such as observation, ovarian stimulation, IUI, tubal surgery, varicocelectomy, etc... The cost-effectiveness of IVF was analyzed separately for different types of infertility. Most of the reviewed studies concluded that due to the high cost, IVF has a less favourable cost-effectiveness profile compared with alternative treatment options. Therefore, IVF was not recommended as the first line of treatment in the majority of cases. The only two exceptions were bilateral tubal obstruction and severe male factor infertility, where an immediate offer of IVF/ICSI might the most cost-effective option.
Clinical Outcomes After Single Versus Double Embryo Transfer Strategies of IVF
Since the SET strategy has been more widely adopted in Europe, all RCT outcomes of SET were conducted in European countries. The major study in this area was a large 2005 meta-analysis, followed by two other published RCTs.
All of these studies reached similar conclusions:
Although a single SET cycle results in lower birth rates than a single double embryo transfer (DET) cycle, the cumulative birth rate after 2 cycles of SET (fresh + frozen-thawed embryos) was comparable to the birth rate after a single DET cycle (~40%).
SET was associated with a significant reduction in multiple births compared with DET (0.8% vs. 33.1% respectively in the largest RCT).
Most trials on SET included women younger than 36 years old with a sufficient number of embryos available for transfer that allowed for selection of the top quality embryo(s). A 2006 RCT, however, compared SET and DET strategies in an unselected group of patients without restrictions on the woman’s age or embryo quality. This study demonstrated that SET could be applied to older women.
Estimate of the Target Population
Based on results of the literature review and consultations with experts, four categories of infertile patients who may benefit from increased access to IVF/ICSI were identified:
Patients with severe male factor infertility, where IVF should be offered in conjunction with ICSI;
Infertile women with serious medical contraindications to multiple pregnancy, who should be offered IVF-SET;
Infertile patients who want to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy and thus opt for IVF-SET; and
Patients who failed treatment with IUI and wish to try IVF.
Since, however, the latter indication does not reflect any new advances in IVF technology that would alter existing policy, it was not considered in this analysis.
Economic Analysis
Economic Review: Cost–Effectiveness of SET Versus DET
Conclusions of published studies on cost-effectiveness of SET versus DET were not consistent. While some studies found that SET strategy is more cost-effective due to avoidance of multiple pregnancies, other studies either did not find any significant differences in cost per birth between SET and DET, or favoured DET as a more cost-effective option.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
An Ontario-based economic analysis compared cost per birth using three treatment strategies: IUI, IVF-SET, and IVF-DET. A decision-tree model assumed three cycles for each treatment option. Two separate models were considered; the first included only fresh cycles of IVF, while the second had a combination of fresh and frozen cycles. Even after accounting for cost-savings due to avoidance of multiple pregnancies (only short-term complications), IVF-SET was still associated with a highest cost per birth. The approximate budget impact to cover the first three indications for IVF listed above (severe male factor infertility, women with medical contraindications to multiple pregnancy, and couples who wish to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy) is estimated at $9.8 to $12.8 million (Cdn). Coverage of only first two indications, namely, ICSI in patients with severe male factor infertility and infertile women with serious medical contraindications to multiple pregnancy, is estimated at $3.8 to $5.5 million Cdn.
Other Considerations
International data shows that both IVF utilization and the average number of embryos transferred in IVF cycles are influenced by IVF funding policy. The success of the SET strategy in European countries is largely due to the fact that IVF treatment is subsidized by governments.
Surveys of patients with infertility demonstrated that a significant proportion (~40%) of patients not only do not mind having multiple babies, but consider twins being an ideal outcome of infertility treatment.
A women’s age may impose some restrictions on the implementation of a SET strategy.
Conclusions and Recommendations
A review of published studies has demonstrated that IVF-SET is an effective treatment for infertility that avoids multiple pregnancies.
However, results of an Ontario-based economic analysis shows that cost savings associated with a reduction in multiple pregnancies after IVF-SET does not justify the cost of universal IVF-SET coverage by the province. Moreover, the province currently funds IUI, which has been shown to be as effective as IVF for certain types of infertility and is significantly less expensive.
In patients with severe male factor infertility, IVF in conjunction with ICSI may be the only effective treatment.
Thus, 2 indications where additional IVF access should be considered include:
IVF/ICSI for patients with severe male factor infertility
IVF-SET in infertile women with serious medical contraindications to multiple pregnancy
PMCID: PMC3379537  PMID: 23074488
19.  Unwanted caesarean sections among public and private patients in Brazil: prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7322):1155-1158.
Objective
To assess and compare the preferences of pregnant women in the public and private sector regarding delivery in Brazil.
Design
Face to face structured interviews with women who were interviewed early in pregnancy, about one month before the due date, and about one month post partum.
Setting
Four cities in Brazil.
Participants
1612 pregnant women: 1093 public patients and 519 private patients.
Main outcome measures
Rates of delivery by caesarean section in public and private institutions; women's preferences for delivery; timing of decision to perform caesarean section.
Results
1136 women completed all three interviews; 476 women were lost to follow up (376 public patients and 100 private patients). Despite large differences in the rates of caesarean section in the two sectors (222/717 (31%) among public patients and 302/419 (72%) among private patients) there were no significant differences in preferences between the two groups. In both antenatal interviews, 70-80% in both sectors said they would prefer to deliver vaginally. In a large proportion of cases (237/502) caesarean delivery was decided on before admission: 48/207 (23%) in women in the public sector and 189/295 (64%) in women in the private sector.
Conclusions
The large difference in the rates of caesarean sections in women in the public and private sectors is due to more unwanted caesarean sections among private patients rather than to a difference in preferences for delivery. High or rising rates of caesarean sections do not necessarily reflect demand for surgical delivery.
What is already known on this topicIn Brazil, one quarter of all women deliver in the private sectorThe rate of caesarean deliveries in the private sector is extremely high (70%) and more than twice that in the public sector, where rates have recently fallen due to a new policyPrevious studies in which women were interviewed after birth showed that a substantial proportion of private patients who have caesarean sections would have preferred normal deliveryWhat this study addsIn two antenatal interviews, preferences regarding type of delivery were nearly identical among public and private patients and strongly favoured vaginal birthsContrary to popular belief, middle and upper class women in Brazil do not want to deliver by caesarean section
PMCID: PMC59849  PMID: 11711406
20.  Two decision aids for mode of delivery among women with previous caesarean section: randomised controlled trial  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;334(7607):1305.
Objectives To determine the effects of two computer based decision aids on decisional conflict and mode of delivery among pregnant women with a previous caesarean section.
Design Randomised trial, conducted from May 2004 to August 2006.
Setting Four maternity units in south west England, and Scotland.
Participants 742 pregnant women with one previous lower segment caesarean section and delivery expected at ≥37 weeks. Non-English speakers were excluded.
Interventions Usual care: standard care given by obstetric and midwifery staff. Information programme: women navigated through descriptions and probabilities of clinical outcomes for mother and baby associated with planned vaginal birth, elective caesarean section, and emergency caesarean section. Decision analysis: mode of delivery was recommended based on utility assessments performed by the woman combined with probabilities of clinical outcomes within a concealed decision tree. Both interventions were delivered via a laptop computer after brief instructions from a researcher.
Main outcome measures Total score on decisional conflict scale, and mode of delivery.
Results Women in the information programme (adjusted difference −6.2, 95% confidence interval −8.7 to −3.7) and the decision analysis (−4.0, −6.5 to −1.5) groups had reduced decisional conflict compared with women in the usual care group. The rate of vaginal birth was higher for women in the decision analysis group compared with the usual care group (37% v 30%, adjusted odds ratio 1.42, 0.94 to 2.14), but the rates were similar in the information programme and usual care groups.
Conclusions Decision aids can help women who have had a previous caesarean section to decide on mode of delivery in a subsequent pregnancy. The decision analysis approach might substantially affect national rates of caesarean section.
Trial Registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN84367722.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39217.671019.55
PMCID: PMC1895676  PMID: 17540908
21.  Evaluating trial of scar in patients with a history of caesarean section 
Aims:
To analyze the outcome of trial of scar in patients with previous caesarean section and to assess the fetal and maternal complications after trial of scar.
Patients and Methods:
The study was conducted at Military Hospital, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, with 375 pregnant patients who had a previous delivery by caesarean and who had regular antenatal checkup. Data were recorded on special pro-forms designed for the purpose.
Results:
The results from the 375 patients who had one previous lower segment caesarean section due to non-recurrent causes were analyzed and compared with national and international studies. Indications of previous caesarean section (non-recurrent causes) included malpresentations, fetal distress/cord prolapse, failure to progress, severe pregnancy-induced hypertension/eclampsia and twins with abnormal lie of the first twin. 0 218 patients reported spontaneous labor. Among these patients, 176 delivered vaginally and 42 patients had repeat caesarean sections. There were a total of 157 patients who experienced induction of labor. 97 patients were induced by cervical ripening with mechanical method, followed by artificial rupture of membranes and augmentation (if required) with syntocinon infusion. 60 patients were induced with prostaglandin E2 vaginal tablet.
Conclusion:
This study concludes that females with a prior caesarean are at increased risk for subsequent caesareans, regardless of mode of delivery. Eliminating vaginal-birth-after-caesarean will not eliminate the risk. Therefore, vaginal birth after caesarean should be encouraged in selected cases from obstetric units to reduce the risks of repeated caesarean sections. Failed vaginal-birth-after-caesarean can result in increased morbidity than that with elective caesarean section.
doi:10.4297/najms.2011.3201
PMCID: PMC3336913  PMID: 22540092
Caesarean section; vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC); trial of labor
22.  Optimal Timing of Delivery among Low-Risk Women with Prior Caesarean Section: A Secondary Analysis of the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149091.
Objective
To investigate optimal timing of elective repeat caesarean section among low-risk pregnant women with prior caesarean section in a multicountry sample from largely low- and middle-income countries.
Design
Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional study.
Setting
Twenty-nine countries from the World Health Organization Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health.
Population
29,647 women with prior caesarean section and no pregnancy complications in their current pregnancy who delivered a term singleton (live birth and stillbirth) at gestational age 37–41 weeks by pre-labour caesarean section, intra-partum caesarean section, or vaginal birth following spontaneous onset of labour.
Methods
We compared the rate of short-term adverse maternal and newborn outcomes following pre-labour caesarean section at a given gestational age, to those following ongoing pregnancies beyond that gestational age.
Main Outcome Measures
Severe maternal outcomes, neonatal morbidity, and intra-hospital early neonatal mortality.
Results
Odds of neonatal morbidity and intra-hospital early neonatal mortality were 0.48 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39–0.60) and 0.31 (95% CI 0.16–0.58) times lower for ongoing pregnancies compared to pre-labour caesarean section at 37 weeks. We did not find any significant change in the risk of severe maternal outcomes between pre-labour caesarean section at a given gestational age and ongoing pregnancies beyond that gestational age.
Conclusions
Elective repeat caesarean section at 37 weeks had higher risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality compared to ongoing pregnancy, however risks at later gestational ages did not differ between groups.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149091
PMCID: PMC4750937  PMID: 26866368
23.  Maternal and perinatal outcomes in women planning vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) at home in England: secondary analysis of the Birthplace national prospective cohort study 
Bjog  2015;123(7):1123-1132.
Objective
To compare vaginal birth rates in women planning vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) at home versus in an obstetric unit (OU) and explore transfer rates in women planning home VBAC.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
OUs and planned home births in England.
Population
1436 women planning VBAC in the Birthplace cohort, including 209 planning home VBAC.
Methods
We used Poisson regression to calculate relative risks adjusted for maternal characteristics.
Main outcome measures
Main outcomes: (i) vaginal birth and (ii) transfer from planned home birth to OU during labour or immediately after birth. Secondary outcomes: (i) composite of maternal blood transfusion or admission to higher level care, (ii) stillbirth or Apgar score <7 at 5 minutes, (iii) neonatal unit admission.
Results
Planned VBAC at home was associated with a statistically significant increase in the chances of having a vaginal birth compared with planned VBAC in an OU (adjusted relative risk 1.15, 95% confidence interval 1.06–1.24). The risk of an adverse maternal outcome was around 2–3% in both settings, with a similar risk of an adverse neonatal outcome. Transfer rates were high (37%) and varied markedly by parity (para 1, 56.7% versus para 2+, 24.6%).
Conclusion
Women in the cohort who planned VBAC at home had an increased chance of a vaginal birth compared with those planning VBAC in an OU, but transfer rates were high, particularly for women with only one previous birth, and the risk of an adverse maternal or perinatal outcome was around 2–3%. No change in guidance can be recommended.
Tweetable abstract
Higher vaginal birth rates in planned VBAC at home versus in OU but 2–3% adverse outcomes and high transfer rate.
Tweetable abstract
Higher vaginal birth rates in planned VBAC at home versus in OU but 2–3% adverse outcomes and high transfer rate.
doi:10.1111/1471-0528.13546
PMCID: PMC5014182  PMID: 26213223
Caesarean; home birth; transfer; vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC)
24.  Consumer demand for caesarean sections in Brazil: informed decision making, patient choice, or social inequality? A population based birth cohort study linking ethnographic and epidemiological methods 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7343):942.
Objectives
To investigate why some women prefer caesarean sections and how decisions to medicalise birthing are influenced by patients, doctors, and the sociomedical environment.
Design
Population based birth cohort study, using ethnographic and epidemiological methods.
Setting
Epidemiological study: women living in the urban area of Pelotas, Brazil who gave birth in hospital during the study. Ethnographic study: subsample of 80 women selected at random from the birth cohort. Nineteen medical staff were interviewed.
Participants
5304 women who gave birth in any of the city's hospitals in 1993.
Main outcome measures
Birth by caesarean section or vaginal delivery.
Results
In both samples women from families with higher incomes and higher levels of education had caesarean sections more often than other women. Many lower to middle class women sought caesarean sections to avoid what they considered poor quality care and medical neglect, resulting from social prejudice. These women used medicalised prenatal and birthing health care to increase their chance of acquiring a caesarean section, particularly if they had social power in the home. Both social power and women's behaviour towards seeking medicalised health care remained significantly associated with type of birth after controlling for family income and maternal education.
Conclusions
Fear of substandard care is behind many poor women's preferences for a caesarean section. Variables pertaining to women's role in the process of redefining and negotiating medical risks were much stronger correlates of caesarean section rates than income or education. The unequal distribution of medical technology has altered concepts of good and normal birthing. Arguments supporting interventionist birthing for all on the basis of equal access to health care must be reviewed.
What is already known on this topicWomen's preferences for caesarean sections are understood to result from lack of knowledge and psychological aptitude to handle vaginal delivery and its consequencesEfforts to reduce the demand for caesarean sections have focused on providing consumers with correct information on the relative risks associated with vaginal and operative deliveriesWhat this study addsIn Brazil, many women prefer caesarean sections because they consider it good quality careRich women are more likely to have caesarean sections, supporting the notion that medical intervention represents superior carePoor women may implement a series of medicalised practices that justifies the need for greater medical intervention during birthInterventions for reducing caesarean sections by educating physicians and patients about risk factors associated with birthing procedures are not sufficient
PMCID: PMC102326  PMID: 11964338
25.  Maternal and neonatal individual risks and benefits associated with caesarean delivery: multicentre prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7628):1025.
Objective To assess the risks and benefits associated with caesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery.
Design Prospective cohort study within the 2005 WHO global survey on maternal and perinatal health.
Setting 410 health facilities in 24 areas in eight randomly selected Latin American countries; 123 were randomly selected and 120 participated and provided data
Participants 106 546 deliveries reported during the three month study period, with data available for 97 095 (91% coverage).
Main outcome measures Maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality associated with intrapartum or elective caesarean delivery, adjusted for clinical, demographic, pregnancy, and institutional characteristics.
Results Women undergoing caesarean delivery had an increased risk of severe maternal morbidity compared with women undergoing vaginal delivery (odds ratio 2.0 (95% confidence interval 1.6 to 2.5) for intrapartum caesarean and 2.3 (1.7 to 3.1) for elective caesarean). The risk of antibiotic treatment after delivery for women having either type of caesarean was five times that of women having vaginal deliveries. With cephalic presentation, there was a trend towards a reduced odds ratio for fetal death with elective caesarean, after adjustment for possible confounding variables and gestational age (0.7, 0.4 to 1.0). With breech presentation, caesarean delivery had a large protective effect for fetal death. With cephalic presentation, however, independent of possible confounding variables and gestational age, intrapartum and elective caesarean increased the risk for a stay of seven or more days in neonatal intensive care (2.1 (1.8 to 2.6) and 1.9 (1.6 to 2.3), respectively) and the risk of neonatal mortality up to hospital discharge (1.7 (1.3 to 2.2) and 1.9 (1.5 to 2.6), respectively), which remained higher even after exclusion of all caesarean deliveries for fetal distress. Such increased risk was not seen for breech presentation. Lack of labour was a risk factor for a stay of seven or more days in neonatal intensive care and neonatal mortality up to hospital discharge for babies delivered by elective caesarean delivery, but rupturing of membranes may be protective.
Conclusions Caesarean delivery independently reduces overall risk in breech presentations and risk of intrapartum fetal death in cephalic presentations but increases the risk of severe maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in cephalic presentations.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39363.706956.55
PMCID: PMC2078636  PMID: 17977819

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