The amount of women having cesarean section births has almost doubled since 2000, according to a new study.
Using data from 169 countries, a study published on Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet estimated that 29.7 million C-section births occurred throughout the globe in 2015, which nearly doubled the 16 million C-section births in 2000.
Additionally, while C-sections amounted to just 12.1 percent of all births in 2000, the number is now estimated to have increased to 21.1 percent of all births.
The study also estimated that cesarean sections are “up to ten times more frequent in the Latin America and Caribbean region,” where 44.3 percent of births were the results of C-sections, than in West and Central Africa, where the number was only 4.1 percent. Meanwhile, the amount of C-sections increased in the United States to 32 percent in 2015, up from 23 percent in 2000, according to CNN.
“We knew that globally, C-section rates were increasing for quite some time now, but that now more than one in five babies are delivered by C-section is striking,” Dr. Ties Boerma, the study’s lead author, remarked, according to the outlet.
The increases “were driven both by an increasing proportion of births occurring in health facilities” and increases in C-section “use within health facilities,” according to the study.
However, while according to the Mayo Clinic, caesarian sections can save lives, they also involve numerous risks for the mother, including infections, blood clots and postpartum hemorrhages.
The study went on to claim that the rise of C-sections is of “growing concern.”
“The large increases in C-section use to levels well over 30 percent in many countries, often for non-medical indications, is of concern given the risks for both women and children,” Dr. Boerma shared.
The World Health Organization previously stated in 1985 that there was “no justification for any region to have a caesarean section rate higher than 10-15 percent.“
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To coincide with the new study, on Thursday, WHO also published new guidelines aimed at helping to reduce the amount of unnecessary C-sections.
“It is crucial that women who need caesarean sections are able to access thsi potentially life-saving procedure, but equally unnecessary procedures should be avoided, so that the lives and well-being of women and their babies are not put at risk,” Dr. Ana Pilar Betran, a medical officer at WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in the press release for the new guidelines.
The key recommendations include increased education on the method of delivery — including “relaxation training programmes” and “psychoeducation for women with fear of pain or anxiety” — as well as requiring that women obtain a second opinion before being able to go through with a C-section.