Objective: To determine whether the timing of elective cesarean delivery at term influences the risk of neonatal pneumothorax.
Study design: Chart reviews confirmed gestational age, delivery modalities, and diagnosis of pneumothorax of 66,961 term infants delivered in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Of these neonates, 17,783 (26.5%) were delivered by cesarean section, including 9988 elective (56.1%) and 7795 emergency (43.8%).
Results: In 5498 (55.0%) of neonates, an elective cesarean section was performed before 39 completed weeks. Fifty-nine neonates had pneumothorax diagnosed (0.88/1000 births). Neonates delivered by elective cesarean section had an increased incidence of pneumothorax (2.90/1000 births), in comparison with neonates delivered by emergency cesarean (1.53/1000 births; OR 4.21; 95% CI 2.02-8.74) or vaginally delivered (0.39/1000 births; OR 7.95; 95% CI 4.41-14.32). In elective cesarean sections there was a significant progressive reduction in the incidence of pneumothorax from week 37 0/7 to 37 6/7 onward (P < .01).
Conclusions: The timing of elective cesarean section influences the pneumothorax risk. A reduction in neonatal iatrogenic pneumothorax would result if elective deliveries were performed after the 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.