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C-Sections Slightly Increase Risk of Stillbirth and Ectopic Pregnancy

Update Date: Jul 01, 2014 02:06 PM EDT

Even though cesarean sections have gotten a lot safer over the past few years, several studies have found evidence that C-sections, when they are not needed could be detrimental to one's health. In a new study, researchers examined the risk of having a C-section on future pregnancies. The team discovered that this birthing procedure slightly increases a woman's future risk of stillbirth or ectopic pregnancy, which is pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb and is life-threatening for the woman.

For this study, the researchers from Denmark analyzed data on 832,996 women taken from the Danish national registers. The researchers followed the women through two pregnancies and recorded C-sections, natural births, stillbirths and ectopic pregnancies. The team used statistical modeling to calculate risk of complications.

The researchers found that women who underwent a C-section for their first birth had a 14 percent greater risk of stillbirth in their second pregnancy in comparison to women who had a natural first birth. Women who had a C-section had a nine percent increased risk of going through an ectopic pregnancy later on. The researchers had controlled for the possibility that the C-sections were done due to complications from an earlier pregnancy.

"The findings of the current study are particularly important for expectant mothers as well as healthcare professionals as Caesarean section rates are increasing significantly worldwide. Whilst we showed that a previous Caesarean section is associated with a subsequent stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy, the overall risk of either is very low," Professor Louise Kenny said in the press release.

The authors added that even though the overall risk is low, women who have had C-sections should be aware of the risks involve so that any complications could ideally be detected early on.

The study, "Cesarean Section and Rate of Subsequent Stillbirth, Miscarriage, and Ectopic Pregnancy: A Danish Register-Based Cohort Study," was published in PLOS Medicine.

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