Caesarean Delivery Increases Risk of Maternal Death

Main causes seen as anesthesia complications, puerperal infection and venous thromboembolism

THURSDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Although maternal mortality is rare in developed countries, women who undergo Caesarean delivery have a nearly quadruple risk of postpartum death compared to women who undergo vaginal delivery, according to a study in the Sept. 1 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Catherine Deneux-Tharaux, M.D., of Maternite Hopital Tenon in Paris, France, and colleagues conducted a case-control study comparing 10,244 French controls with 65 French women who died within 42 days postpartum from causes not due to conditions or complications present before delivery.

After controlling for potential confounders, the researchers found that the risk of postpartum death was 3.6 times higher after Caesarean delivery than after vaginal delivery (odds ratio 3.64). They also found that Caesarean delivery was associated with a significantly increased risk of maternal death from anesthesia complications, puerperal infection and venous thromboembolism.

"Although Caesarean delivery is increasingly perceived as a low-risk procedure, the present study suggests that it is still associated with an increased risk of postpartum maternal death as compared with vaginal delivery, even when performed before labor," the authors conclude. "This needs to be taken into account by clinicians and women when balancing the risks against the benefits of the different methods of delivery. In addition, knowledge of the specific causes involved in this excess maternal mortality risk should inform preventive strategies at Caesarean delivery."

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