Vietnam C-sections rank second in Asia, WHO finds

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More than one third of all births in Vietnam are delivered by caesarean section, the second highest rate among nine countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A study found that 36 percent of births in Vietnam were delivered by C-sections, after China’s 46 percent and followed by Thailand with 34 percent, the UN health agency said in a report published online Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet.

WHO regarded the boom in surgeries as a shift toward modernization, but not a good thing.

About 40 percent of the 20,000 babies delivered at the National Hospital of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Hanoi were by C-section, newswire Associated Press (AP) quoted Dr. Le Anh Tuan, the hospital’s vice director who did not participate in the study, as saying.

Tuan explained that the hospital often received the most complicated cases as the capital’s largest maternity facility. He also said many Vietnamese women had small frames, thus their babies were too large for natural delivery.

“The babies are bigger, even than in Western countries,” he was quoted by AP as saying. “Vietnam was a country where we didn’t have enough food to eat. Now we have a surplus of food. The women think that if they eat a lot, their babies will be healthy.”

The WHO study did not discuss specific reasons for the high number of surgeries, but it noted that more than 60 percent of the hospitals studied were motivated by financial incentives, AP said.

Overall, nearly 110,000 births were selected randomly in 122 public and private hospitals in 2007-2008 across Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The hospitals were located in capital cities and two other regions/provinces within the country, all logging more than 1,000 births a year.

As 27 percent of the births studied were done under the knife, partially motivated by hospitals eager to make more money, the WHO said “epidemic proportions” of unnecessary surgeries were jeopardizing women’s health and raising the risk of complications for the mother.

Women undergoing unnecessary C-sections are more likely to die or be admitted into intensive care units, require blood transfusions or encounter complications that lead to hysterectomies, the WHO study found.

US studies have shown babies born by caesarean have a greater chance of respiratory problems.

Source: Thanh Nien

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