C-sections should only be considered when they are “medically necessary,” recommended WHO (World Health Organisation) on Friday, regretting “an epidemic of C-sections” just about everywhere in the world. “In many developing and developed countries there is a real epidemic of C-sections even when they are not needed for health reasons,” noted Dr. Temmerman, director of WHO’s Reproductive Health and Research Department. In many countries this “epidemic” reflects the fact that doctors are trying to make their lives easier: C-sections can be scheduled, she said, upon publication of the new WHO recommendations.
But “C-sections should only be used when they are medically required,” says WHO in a new recommendation. This marks the first time the UN agency clearly urges C-sections to be reserved for medical cases, explained Dr. Gulmezoglu from WHO. Until now, WHO had merely stated that “the ideal ratio of deliveries by C-section” was between 10 and 15%, figures worked out by experts in 1985.
Since then, C-section deliveries have spread in developed countries as well as developing ones. according to the most recent figures released by the WHO. The ratio of C-sections on pregnancies reached 23% in Europe, 35.6% in the Americas, and 24.1% in the Pacific West. Only Africa (3.8%) and South-East Asia (8.8%) seem immune to the trend.
In some countries there is a real “C-section culture,” such as in Brazil where half of all babies are born by C-section, which places the country at the top of world rankings, explained Dr. Temmerman. WHO has therefore launched new research projects to try to determine an ideal ratio for C-sections.