The BBC discusses the increased risk of complications after a Caesarian section:
In mothers who had their first baby by caesarean, the risk of placental praevia – a condition where the placenta attaches over or near the internal opening of the cervix – was 47% higher in their second pregnancy than women who gave birth naturally.

The risk of a second condition, placenta abruption – where the placenta separates from the womb prematurely – was 40% higher in women who had a previous caesarean.

Well, that makes sense. When you have a scar, the tissue on top of the scar tends to be thinner, and so the placenta tends not to grow there, and if it grows there, it is more likely to bleed since the roots of the placenta don’t go as deep into the thin wall.

However, the article itself is misleading. Where is the vital information to put this into perspective? The actual rate. Placenta praevia is found in 0.8% of births, but after Caesarian section, it increases “50%” to “over 1%”.

Now, there are many risks from Caesarian section, including risk of anesthesia and increased risk to normal babies from the medicines, but they are small.

But what is the risk of NOT having a Caesarian section?
What is the rate of infant stillbirth, maternal hemorrhage or even death from prolonged labour, or infection from prolonged labour?

In Africa, we only did Caesarian sections when the life of the mother was at stake, because a Caesarian section often made a superstitious husband divorce his wife (prolonged labour was considered God punishing you for infidelity). So we lost some babies that in the UK or US would have been okay. Yet even in Africa, some babies won’t deliver without the Caesarian , and our rate was about 4% not the 30% in modern hospitals.

So like every problem of modern life, you have to not only know the risks, but the risk benefit ratio. Just making an article with the negative numbers without analysis of the alternative is lying with statistics.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind CLinic and Fishmarket, and she writes medical essays to HeyDoc Xanga Blog

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