C-Sections Rampant in Brazil—for Now

Country tries to reel in its 'international shame'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2015 11:07 AM CDT
A newborn baby is shown.   (AP Photo/Women's Memorial Hermann Hospital)

(Newser) – In 2013, 32.7% of all babies delivered in America were born by cesarean section. If that sounds high, well, check out Brazil's stats. The BBC reports that at private hospitals, 85% of women deliver by cesarean; in public hospitals, it's about half that (45%). In 2013 NPR reported the figure for some private hospitals is 99%; one doctor NPR spoke with could hardly recall the last time he handled a vaginal delivery. The World Health Organization recommends a 10% to 15% rate. In an effort to get closer to that figure, Brazil is now making it a little more, well, laborious to have a cesarean. New rules were introduced yesterday, reports AFP, and going forward, there's more paperwork.

After women are told about the risks (now required), they'll have to sign a consent form; a doctor will have to fill out a form that asks for the justification of the procedure. But forms may not solve what some women say is the real issue: a lack of beds. Those who want to deliver in a private hospital report that the beds are often completely preassigned to women who've booked a cesarean, forcing them to, in some instances, go to hospital after hospital while in labor. AFP reports doctors play a role, too, with some saying doctors encourage women to take the scheduled route, which helps quash middle-of-the-night working hours. As one pediatrician puts it, mass cesareans are the country's "international shame."

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