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Study reveals rise in C-section deliveries across India since 2021

A study by IIT Madras indicates that between 2016 and 2021, there was a rise in the number of C-section deliveries in India. It highlights that women in private hospitals have a four-times higher chance of having a C-section as compared to those in public hospitals.

A caesarean section (C-section) delivery is a surgical technique that involves making an incision in the mother’s belly to deliver one or more infants. When medically justified, the procedure can be life-saving. However, when not strictly necessary, it can cause several adverse health outcomes, leading to unnecessary expenditure and strain the already scarce public health resources.

The study also found that better-educated women in urban areas were more likely to deliver by C-section, suggesting greater autonomy and better access to healthcare facilities. The study also found that the proportion of those with pregnancy complications decreased from 42.2% to 39.5%, indicating that the increased rate of C-section delivery was largely influenced by non-clinical factors.

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Women’s own preferences, their socio-economic level and education, and risk-averse physicians practicing conservative medicine could be some of these non-clinical factors.

The researchers conducted a detailed review of Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu and discovered that while high-risk fertility behavior and pregnancy complications were more common in Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu had a higher rate of C-sections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that between 10% and 15% is the acceptable rate for C-sections.

The study was conducted by researchers from IIT Madras’ Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Among them are professors and research scholars Ms. Varshini Neethi Mohan and Dr. P. Shirisha.

The researchers advise that “threshold levels for C-sections be applied cautiously, as several inter-category variations exist and need factors for C-sections may be more prevalent in states at advanced levels of demographic transition.  There is an alarmingly high proportion of poor women undergoing C-sections in the private sector in Tamil Nadu. This requires further analysis and corrective action in case some of these are clinically unnecessary.”

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