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Why is the rate of C-sections so high in the U.S.?

Every year, a percentage of infants born in New York hospitals are delivered via cesarean section. At the end of 2015, the Journal of American Medicine published a study indicating that the ideal rate of C-sections established by the World Health Organization of 10 to 15 percent may be too low.

The study looked at data from 23 million C-sections performed during 2012 in 54 countries and found that infant and maternal mortality rates were the lowest when C-section rates approached 19 percent. The C-section rate for the United States is around 33 percent, and the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world among developed nations. Doctors may elect to perform C-sections for financial reasons, because C-sections are more profitable overall as they usually take less time than vaginal deliveries.

According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, doctors can reduce costs by saving time with an operation versus attending to a mother in labor for hours. The study also noted that there were higher C-section rates for mothers with private insurance than for those with staff-model HMOs, public insurance or who were uninsured.

C-sections may also be performed due to an obstetrician's fear of being sued over birth injuries. Performing a C-section at the first opportunity might make a lawsuit less likely if the plaintiff cannot argue that a C-section should have been performed or should have been performed sooner.

Birth injuries can lead to lifelong complications, such as cerebral palsy when an infant is deprived of oxygen during the delivery process. Parents of children who have experienced a birth injury may wish to consult an attorney about their legal options, as birth injuries can lead to serious, lifelong complications and costly medical bills.

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