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Births by caesarean section in Ireland increase 154% over 25 years

Posted July 21, 2017

  • Nearly one-third of babies in Ireland delivered by caesarean section
  • Caesarean section carries greater risk than natural birth

The number of women who give birth by caesarean section at two of Ireland’s largest maternity hospitals has increased by 154 percent over the last 25 years.

This was one of the findings of a study co-authored by University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, the Economic and Social Research Institute and the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street that covered births from 1990 – 2014.

The report published in the Irish Medical Journal focused on the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street. More than 8,000 babies are delivered at each hospital every year.

Only one-third of patients in these hospitals choose to have a natural birth after having their first child by caesarean section despite both of them encouraging natural birth by policy.

Homepage photo credit: Tatiana Vdb (Flickr/CC)

Speaking to the Irish Independent, study co-author Professor Michael Turner, UCD School of Medicine said, "This is going to push up our caesarean section rate in years to come. There is no sign that our caesarean section rate has plateaued."

Turner is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Director at the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction in the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital. In further remarks to the Irish Independent, he cautioned against the ongoing trend in favour of caesarean section births.

“The risks of complications are higher than they are with a vaginal birth. It also has long-term implications in that you've had major surgery and it complicates the risk of any future abdominal surgery.

"The main concern is the human cost, the cost to women in that they are having more and more major operations."

Professor Turner also said there was a greater financial cost for hospitals as women stay longer after giving birth by caesarean section. The average length of stay for a non-instrumental vaginal delivery is 2.5 days compared to 4.7 days for a planned caesarean section and 5.5 days for an emergency caesarean section.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations