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Women's Access to Caesareans Insufficient Around World

But Caesareans are overused in Latin America

TUESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Sub-Saharan African women have dangerously poor access to Caesarean sections, while many Latin American women undergo the procedure unnecessarily, researchers report in the Oct. 28 issue of The Lancet.

Carine Ronsmans, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K., and colleagues analyzed data from 42 surveys in south and southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers found Caesarean section rates under 1 percent for the least-advantaged fifth of the population in 20 countries, and under 1 percent for four-fifths of the population in six countries. In seven primarily Latin American countries, Caesareans exceeded the recommended 15 percent maximum for at least 40 percent of the population.

"In the poorest countries -- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa -- large segments of the population have almost no access to potentially life-saving Caesareans, whereas in some mid-income countries more than half the population has rates in excess of medical need," the authors write.

In an editorial, Fernando Althabe, M.D., of the Perinatal Research Unit in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a colleague warn: "Although urgent action is needed in sub-Saharan Africa, measures to prevent what is already occurring in Latin America should also be a priority."

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