Yale medical researchers have found that C-sections may be causing breathing problems in preemies who are small for their age.
The researcher reviewed eight years of birth certificates and found that babies delivered by a C-section before 34 weeks of pregnancy who were small for gestational age had higher odds of developing respiratory distress syndrome than babies born vaginally.
The study was recently presented at the 32nd Annual Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) Meeting in Dallas, TX.
Lead researchers were Heather Lipkind, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine, and co-author Erika Werner, M.D., who is now at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Preterm birth, which is delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy, costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine.
The researchers reviewed eight years of birth certificate and hospital discharge information for 2,885 preterm babies considered small for gestational age. C-sections are often performed for babies diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction who are not growing adequately in the womb.
The increased odds of respiratory distress was evident not matter the mother's age, ethnicity, education, primary insurance payer, pre-pregnancy weight, gestational age at delivery, diabetes and hypertension.
“Further research is needed to determine the optimal mode of delivery for this population,” Lipkind said in a statement.