Increased rates of cesarean sections and large families: a potentially dangerous combination

J Perinat Med. 2017 Jul 26;45(5):517-521. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2016-0242.


Rates of cesarean sections have been on the rise over the past three decades all over the world, despite the ideal rate of 10-15% that had been set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1985, in Fortaleza, Brazil. This epidemic increase in the rate of cesarean delivery is due to many factors which include, cesarean delivery on request, advanced maternal age at first pregnancy, decrease in number of patients who are willing to try vaginal birth after cesarean delivery, virtual disappearance of vaginal breech delivery, perceived increase in the weight of the fetus and increase in the number of women with chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus and congenital heart disease in the reproductive age. There is no doubt that cesarean delivery is a safe procedure and it is getting safer and safer for many reasons. However, like all other surgical procedures it is not without risks both to the mother and the new born. There is a substantial increase in the incidence of morbidly adherent placenta and the risk of scar pregnancy. In the Middle East and many African and Asian countries women tend to have large families. The number of previous cesarean section deliveries is directly proportional to the risk of developing morbidly adherent placenta. Morbidly adherent placenta is the most common cause of emergency postpartum hysterectomy, which is often associated with multiple surgical complications, severe maternal morbidity and mortality. The increased rates of cesarean sections lead to increased rates of scar pregnancies, which can have lethal consequences. Cesarean delivery has a negative impact on the infant immune system. This effect on the infant led to the introduction of a new concept called "Vaginal seeding". This refers to the practice of transferring some maternal vaginal fluid to the infant born via cesarean section in an effort to enhance its immune system.

Keywords: Maternal and neonatal complications; operative risks; surgical procedure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Cesarean Section / psychology
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / etiology
  • Pregnancy