Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Emergency cesareans more likely for older mothers

I've just been searching the internet to no avail, trying to find the actual Irish study being referred to in this Irish Times article published yesterday by Lorna Siggins. It appears in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology, but may not yet be available online.

I wanted to find out what age range 'older women' refers to, but in any case, the conclusion drawn in this new study (led by Professor John Morrison in Galway) should be of interest to many first-time pregnant women because they may 'run a much higher risk of emergency Caesarean section, even if pregnancies are not complicated (my italics)'.

The birth outcomes of 45,000 mothers at University College Hospital between 1989 and 2005 were analysed and advanced maternal age was found to have a 'strong bearing' on the likelihood of emergency surgery.

What does this tell us?
Prof Morrison told The Irish Times: "The findings indicate that the uterus does not work so well in older women, when one takes out the standard factors for epidurals, inductions, etc.” He continues: "There has been a lot of controversy over Caesarean sections, here and abroad, and their increasing frequency."
“The confirmation that age is a key factor in surgery is not because obstetricians are taking an ageist approach. The clear message from this is that age has an impact on ability to deliver normally."

Just as I commented in a recent post about pregnant African American women, what readers decide to do with research like this is a personal choice - and one to be discussed with your own midwife or OBGYN - but certainly for some women, in the light of research like this, the decision to avoid the risk of emergency surgery, and schedule a planned surgical birth instead, is a perfectly legitimate one.

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