• The research was performed to help clarify wide-ranging speculation over which delivery method is better for the health of a child. (AAP)Source: AAP
The health of your second child will not suffer simply because you opt to deliver your second-child via caesarean section, according to new international research.
By
Yasmin Noone

16 Mar 2016 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 16 Mar 2016 - 3:04 PM

Mothers who opt to repeatedly give birth to children via a caesarean (C-section) delivery can rest assured: their second baby’s health won’t be any different than if it was delivered vaginally.

A new study from Scotland shows that mothers who deliver babies via C-section more than once are not putting their second-child at risk of developing a series of lifelong conditions.

The research, published in PLOS Medicine this week, looked whether C-sections disadvantaged the health of the second child, after mothers already had one with their first child.

The researchers from the University of Aberdeen found no difference in the long-term health between the second-born children studied and those who had been born vaginally to mothers who also had a C-section for their older sibling.

“Women may be somewhat reassured by the apparent lack of risk to long-term offspring health following planned repeat C-section specifically,” the study’s authors write.

“This study may therefore support the process of planning birth after C-section in a way that reflects women’s values and preferences.”

The research was performed to help clarify wide-ranging speculation over which delivery method is better for the health of a child.

Women may be somewhat reassured by the apparent lack of risk to long-term offspring health following planned repeat C-section specifically

A World Health Organisation statement made last year, clearly states that although a C-section can save lives, it “is often performed without medical need, putting women and their babies at-risk of short- and long-term health problems”.

“…Caesarean sections can cause significant complications, disability or death, particularly in settings that lack the facilities to conduct safe surgeries or treat potential complications,” WHO advice reads.

Previous studies also suggest that C-section deliveries increase a child’s risk of asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Various health advocates have also gone so far as to provide online DIY details on how women can secretly swab C-section delivered babies with their own vaginal fluids after birth – without medical assistance or knowledge – so their children avoid health complications in later life.

“There is some concern that avoiding the processes of labour and birth may be disadvantageous to offspring health, but there is also concern that attempting a vaginal birth after a previous caesarean may put the unborn baby at risk of complications in labour,” explains lead author, Dr Mairead Black.

“So this study attempted to look at childhood health problems which may be more or less likely following a planned repeat C-section, where labour is avoided all together.”  

Despite the controversy, Dr Black says repeat C-section births are very common in high-income countries.

According to 2011-statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost 96,000 women gave birth by C-section nationwide: about one-in-three deliveries. Meanwhile, WHO recommends that most countries should have C-section delivery rates equal to 10-to-15 percent of all births.

The research was performed to help clarify wide-ranging speculation over which delivery method is better for the health of a child.

The researchers studied all second births, which took place between 1993 and 2007 of children to mothers in Scotland who had previously had a first child born by C-section.

Using available health records, the researchers looked for correlations between type of birth and several health outcomes in children, including obesity at age five years, hospitalisation with asthma, prescription of a salbutamol inhaler at age five, hospitalisation with irritable bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, learning disability, cerebral palsy, cancer, and death.

The only consistent difference the researchers found between repeat C-section and vaginally born children was a slightly elevated risk for hospitalisation with asthma in children born by C-section.

“However, the increase in risk is so small that we do not consider it to be important enough to influence delivery decisions where indications for caesarean birth exist.”

“C-section may play a part in explaining global increases in asthma, but overall, this study provides some reassurance that children delivered by planned repeat C-section are not at substantially higher risk of this or other adverse health outcomes in childhood.”

The study did not investigate whether the births analysed were initially planned to be vaginal or C-section.

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