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Rise in C-sections linked to aging uterus

We are in an era of middle-aged moms even though teen pregnancies are always in the limelight. This is the reason why the rate of Cesarean sections has been steadily increasing. The longer women delay in having children, the higher is the risk of having a Cesarean delivery due to impaired womb function. These findings were based on a large body of data collected in Scotland by scientists at Cambridge University.

The research team examined more than 500,000 record entries from 1980 to 2005 to evaluate the relationship between maternal age and labor outcome. Here are some of their results:

  • There was a 7-fold increase in the proportion of women aged 35-39 entering their first pregnancy
  • There was a 10-fold increase for women aged 40 or older also having their first pregnancy.
  • The rate of Cesarean sections has also more than doubled in the same period of time.

This trend seems to be the same in many developed countries as well.

The researchers went on further and looked into the women’s womb. Samples of myometrium which is the muscle from the middle of the uterine wall were taken from 62 women who had elective C-sections.

Their analysis showed that older women tend to have impaired uterine function which results in reduced ability of the uterus to spontaneously contract as well in changes in the type of contraction. This impairment in contraction leads to problems during delivery which eventually ends in a C-section.

C-deliveries can present a lot of risks for the mother and for the child and can lead to a lot of complications, including preterm delivery and low birth weights.


[…] were a few more interesting findings: – One third of all births are by cesarean. (In Puerto Rico, it’s almost half of all births.) “Every pregnant woman in the U.S. […]

7 years 11 months ago

Great links, Science-Mom, and thanks for sharing them. :) Women being denied health care coverage after c-sections is a big issue that is not getting the media coverage it deserves. It all begins with education.

7 years 11 months ago

Hmmm.. I was 29 when I had my son and I had a c-section. I’ve known other moms in their 20s that had c-sections so I don’t fully believe this study.

7 years 11 months ago
Thanks for clarifying, Science-Mom. Your post seemed to present the study as “fact.” It could be true that a higher percentage of elderly prima-gravid moms have c-sections than younger women… but I just don’t see that as the overall cause for the rise in the percentage of c-sections. The myometrium sample findings are interesting, yes, and I’m sure it does contribute to *some* increase in c-sections. But not all. It just doesn’t account for all the other socio-political factors at play, or the difference in c-section rates between two hospitals both drawing from the same demographic pool, such as Good… Read more »
7 years 11 months ago
I think that this had to have been a biased study. If an older (elderly prima gravida) mom is healthy and her pregnancy is without any complications (as mine was, so I speak from experience), there is no reason for a C-section. Too many doctors and hospitals do not give women enough information about the risks of C-sections and are too quick to say “yeah, let’s cut you open to get the child out instead of letting nature take the course that’s worked since the dawn of time.” And, in Western society we’re taught to fear childbirth and the medical… Read more »
7 years 11 months ago
Wow, Science-mom, the conclusion on this study is WAY off. Here’s the logic they are trying to foist upon the public: first-time moms are getting older. (fact) C-sections are on the rise (fact) Therefore, older first-time moms result in more c-sections…. (HUH?!) The causality is faulty and does not take into account other facts that have led to increased c-sections over the years, such as: * doctors’ fear of malpractice suits *overcrowding labor and delivery areas, leading to doctors’ “rushing” the delivery process *male doctors’ subconscious fear of allowing the natural birth process to take place without intervention, as women… Read more »
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