The majority of early term elective cesarean sections can be postponed.
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CitationRikhardsdottir J V, Hardardottir H, Thorkelsson T. The majority of early term elective cesarean sections can be postponed. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 2019 Nov 20:1-6.doi:10.1080/14767058.2019.1684467.
AbstractIntroduction: To minimize the risk of neonatal respiratory morbidity it is recommended that elective cesarean sections should not be done before 39-week gestation unless medically indicated. However, elective cesarean sections are still being performed at early term (at 370-386 weeks gestation) without sound medical indications. In this study, we evaluated the indications for elective cesarean sections performed at early term to assess the proportion of procedures that could possibly have been postponed until ≥39 weeks to avoid neonatal respiratory morbidity.Material and methods: Maternal and neonatal information was collected from medical records on all elective cesarean sections performed in singleton pregnancies at ≥370 weeks gestation over a 20-year period in a population with secure ultrasound gestational age assignment. Indications were grouped and uterine scar, breech, or transverse presentation and maternal request classified as nonurgent.Results: There were 3411 elective cesarean sections performed at ≥37-week gestation, of which 790 (23.2%) were at 370-386 weeks. Medical indications were present for 34% (272/790), but 65.6% (518/790) could possibly have been postponed until ≥390 weeks. Of the neonates 5.7% developed respiratory morbidity if delivery was at 370-386 weeks gestation compared to 2.4% at 390-421 weeks gestation (p < .001).Conclusion: Of elective cesarean sections before 39-week gestation two-thirds were done without a clear medical indication, thereby exposing the newborn to an increased risk of respiratory morbidity. Scheduling elective cesarean sections at ≥39-week gestation is important to minimize the risk of neonatal respiratory morbidity, unless a clear medical indication dictates earlier delivery.
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