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Hospitals reducing early c-sections

December 20, 2012 1:19:03 PM PST
Anya Keyser just gave birth to baby Ezra. She wanted a natural home birth but had to have a c-section. That's because surgery to remove fibroids left her with 7 scars on her uterus.

"I just know that I have no choice, but I don't think I would ever opt for a c-section," Keyser said.

Here at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, unless you have a medical reason, you can't have a c-section or be induced for labor until you're almost full term.

"We have eliminated all elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation," Dr. Michael Divon, chairman of OB/GYN at Lenox Hill Hospital, said.

Divon says the goal is healthier babies.

"If you deliver before 39 weeks, you increase the number of complications in the baby," he said.

Complications like low birth weight and breathing problems, but across the country more women are choosing to give birth early.

The list of reasons why is endless: women are often uncomfortable, they want a more controlled environment and there is of course the convenience factor. And that applies to doctors also

"The doctor can plan his or her life based on a scheduled induction rather than an unknown date of delivery," Divon said.

Between 1970 and 2007, the cesarean delivery rate in the U.S. Increased dramatically from 5% to more than 31%.

About 22% of women undergo early induction of labor. That number has more than doubled since 1990.

Dr. Divon says when they stopped allowing early c sections. There was resistance from doctors and patients, but now more hospitals nationwide are on board with the same policy.

"It's becoming the standard of practice and it results in better outcome," Divon said.

In New York, other hospitals have the same policy-- Lutheran, Maimonides, Mt. Sinai, Albert Einstein, Winthrop, etc. That's according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Earlier this year that organization launched the "Strong Start" initiative, a national public awareness campaign aimed at improving maternal and infant health outcomes by reducing the number of unnecessary elective deliveries before 39 weeks' gestation.

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