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B.C. has highest C-section rate in Canada: report

Researcher says it’s not necessarily a bad thing

B.C. has the highest number of babies delivered by caesarean section in the country and it continues to rise, a new report says.

At 35.3 per cent, B.C. outstrips second-place Newfoundland and Labrador by five percentage points, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The province is more than 10 points higher than the lowest rates found in the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

And Sarah Munro, a UBC postdoctoral researcher and scientist with the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

”At an individual level… increasing rates of C-sections may be evidence that women are making informed, intelligent, rational choices for caesarean sections with the information that they have,” Munro said.

But taking in general look raises some concerns, she said, especially since it’s not yet known why B.C.’s rate continues to rise faster than that of any other province.

“At a population health level, we know that a higher C-section rate means more potential for bad outcomes associated with major surgery,” said Munro.

“Increased risk of infection, increased risk of potential breathing issues for the baby and it also makes it harder for women to have more vaginal birth in the future.”

In B.C., 83 per cent of the women who have a C-section will go onto to have another, according to the CIHI report.

Although that’s not quite the highest number for that trend in the country, because of the higher rates of C-sections to begin with, she said it does mean more women in B.C. have more repeat C-sections than women anywhere else.

“The single, biggest predictor of a Caesarean delivery is a previous Caesarean,” said Munro. “In B.C., nearly one-in-three Caesareans are among women who have had a previous Caesarean.”

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