This study provides the latest evidence for an ongoing quandary for pregnant women and their obstetricians. For years, doctors recommended that women who delivered via cesarean section should not deliver future infants vaginally. But studies over the past 20 years disputed that belief, and many women have chosen to undergo VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean section.
This new four-year study is one of the largest ever performed to provide physicians and women with information on one of the most debated issues in maternity care.
Sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network - part of the National Institutes of Health - the study's findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine in New Orleans.
"Available data comparing outcomes of a trial of labor and an elective repeat operation have been inadequate. This new data will be valuable to medical professionals who counsel women who are considering their options for childbirth following cesarean delivery," said Dr. Mark Landon, vice chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at The Ohio State University Medical Center and principal investigator for the 19-academic center study.
The study demonstrated that, when compared to elective repeat cesarean delivery, women attempting vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) are at increased risk for maternal morbidity and serious obstetric complications, such as uterine rupture, endometritis, transfusion, or newborn hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (newborn brain injury due to lack of oxygen).