American women are risking their health and driving up medical costs by having too many cesarean sections, the Los Angeles Times reports. The most common operation in the US, the C-section is used in 31% of births and accounts for 45% of rising birth costs. It can also lead to infections, blood clots, and premature births. And it often isn't necessary, medical experts say.
The US out-cesareans most industrialized nations, perhaps because celebrity magazines have reported on the procedure—Victoria Beckham had three—and doctors like its convenience. But some hospitals are striking back, opposing elective births before 39 weeks. The strategy may also help the US control its $2.4-trillion annual healthcare bill. "Maternity care plays a considerable role in escalating healthcare costs," said one think tank report.