Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

The issue of conducting Cesarean sections

Doctors are under incredible pressure when it comes to the delivery of children. Doctors often remain uncertain as to whether a Cesarean section should or should not be performed until it is too late and birth injuries or cerebral palsy results.

Today, approximately one-third of all children are born in Pittsburgh and the United States by Cesarean section. In 1970, only five percent of children came into the world in this manner. Yet discussions as to whether a Cesarean section should be performed often come down to decisions like nature versus technology rather than what is in the best medical interest of the mother and child.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 1985 stated that the rate of Cesarean sections should be ideally set at around 15 percent. WHO felt that 15 percent would prevent childbirth injuries and deaths, but a rate above that would mean risks to mothers and children inflicted by unnecessary surgery.

Even experts in the United States feel that the rate is too high. A Cesarean section is still surgery where a woman is required to undergo the knife.

Cesarean sections can for the mother result in hemorrhage, blood clots, bowel obstruction, bladder damage, infection, long term pain, and future complications during pregnancy. Babies may be cut during these procedures, suffer asphyxiation if difficulties in removing the child arise, are more likely to suffer from asthma in the future, and are at increased risk of obesity.

On the other hand, natural birth has a number of risks as well as breech deliveries are often less risky and easier to conduct if done through the process of a Cesarean section. Doctors will often resort to Cesarean sections if the outcome of a natural delivery potentially could be dangerous.

It's very simplistic to come down one side or the other without judging the individual circumstances of every pregnancy. And whether an attorney judges one form of delivery or the other to be medical malpractice will be in relation to the circumstances of that pregnancy. All attorneys ask are that those doctors at all times use their best judgment.

Source: Harvard Magazine, "Labor, Interrupted," by Nell Lake, November-December 2012

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