How are complications of cesarean delivery (C-section) prevented?

Updated: Dec 14, 2018
  • Author: Hedwige Saint Louis, MD, MPH, FACOG; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Perinatal outcome is influenced by gestational age at delivery, the presence of congenital abnormalities and growth abnormalities, and the indication for delivery itself. Improvement in perinatal outcome has been greatly enhanced by improved technology available to neonatologists and by improvements in prenatal care (eg, identification of patients at high risk, ultrasonography, and increased usage of antenatal steroids, progesterone, and most recently magnesium sulfate cerebral palsy prophylaxis in those at risk for preterm delivery. [74, 75]

Unfortunately, despite the dramatic rise in the rate of cesarean delivery, the overall rate of cerebral palsy has not decreased. The only perinatal intervention for which strong evidence shows a beneficial effect on both mortality and the risk of cerebral palsy is antenatal treatment of the mother with glucocorticoids. [76]

A minority of cesarean deliveries are performed for fetal distress, where fetal heart rate tracings are clearly associated with an increased risk of fetal hypoxia and acidosis. Fetal heart rate monitoring has not decreased the overall rate of cerebral palsy; rather, it has decreased the threshold to perform cesarean deliveries for nonreassuring fetal status.

Unfortunately, many obstetricians admit that their practice of medicine has become more defensive. Given the fear of inquiry regarding how a particular patient’s labor was managed, many obstetricians may have a lower threshold to perform a cesarean delivery despite the fact that the incidence of neonatal seizures or cerebral palsy has not been affected by increasing cesarean delivery rates. [77]

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