The Costs of C-Sections

The Costs of C-Sections August 20, 2014

Cesarean sections have gotten a lot safer over the past century plus. And as they’ve gotten safer, they’ve gotten a lot commoner. But Sarah Yager reports that there are costs attached to the increase: “unnecessary C-sections cost insurers an estimated $5 billion a year.”

And the cost of the procedure isn’t the end of the cost. Studies are showing that “C-section babies go on to have a 22 percent higher risk of obesity, nearly double the risk of celiac disease, a 20 percent higher risk of asthma and type 1 diabetes, and up to an 800 percent higher risk of sensitivity to allergens.”

Most C-sections aren’t done for medical reasons: “only 38 percent of Cesareans today have a clear medical indication, such as a problem with the placenta that would make labor dangerous.” The threat of malpractice suits is a factor here, as it is in all medical practice these days: “After fetal-heart-rate monitors grew popular in the 1970s, parents of babies with birth injuries began suing doctors for not responding aggressively to the monitors’ readings – even though heart rate isn’t always a reliable indicator of fetal distress.”

Yager claims that money is a factor too: “From one hospital to another, C-section rates can vary by a factor of 10, without any apparent influence on newborn health. This variation suggests that hospital policies have a huge impact on delivery decisions. Avoiding unnecessary C-sections may not be a priority for all providers – C-sections bring in about 50 percent more revenue than vaginal births do.”


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