C-sections also boost the odds of certain problems with later pregnancies, including abnormalities in the placenta that can lead to severe bleeding during labor.
According to Macones, a number a factors have likely driven the rise in the U.S. C-section rate. Some women request the procedure, for instance, so as to choose when they give birth or to avoid long labor.
And obstetricians may be quicker to do them now than in years past. Worry over being sued should something go wrong during natural labor and delivery is one factor, according to Macones.
But he said there are potential ways to bring the C-section rate to a more appropriate level.
"I think the most important is to try to avoid first cesareans, and do them only when indicated," Macones said. One way to do that, he added, is to limit labor inductions to only cases where they are necessary.
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