March 25, 2015 13:11
The proportion of mothers giving birth by Caesarian section has been above 36 percent for a decade despite efforts to promote natural birth.
A research team led by Seol Hyun-joo and Bae Chong-woo at Kyunghee University Hospital analyzed statistics on C-sections from 1982 to 2012.
The proportion of Caesarian deliveries was a mere four to five percent in the early 1980s but rose steadily above 30 percent by 1997. In 1999 it shot up as high as 43 percent.
When the government published information on C-section rates for hospitals and gave incentive to hospitals with low rates and penalized those who recommended the procedure as a matter of course, the rate dropped to 38 percent in 2003. But there it stopped, remaining a whopping 10 percent higher than the OECD average of 26.9 percent.
The World Health Organization recommends 10 to 15 percent.
Obstetricians blame the increasing age of expectant mothers. The proportion of women over 35 who gave birth increased from 8.4 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2012, and nearly half of them choose a C-section.
The average age of women who gave birth surpassed 30 in 2005 and 32 last year, while the OECD average is 29, suggesting that this alone cannot be the reason.
Spain and the U.K. have C-section rates of 24 to 25 percent, and the Netherlands just 15 percent.
Seol said, "Some mothers and doctors prefer C-sections to minimize the chance of complications or lawsuits, and medical fees for C-sections are also much higher than for natural births although they're a lot less labor-intensive."
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