New study finds C-sections increase babies asthma risk

Questions to ask your doctor

Link between C-sections and asthma
Link between C-sections and asthma

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – On average 30 percent of all births in the United States are C-sections. Here locally the rate is even higher depending on which hospital you check.  A new study followed more than 300,000 people  20 years after they were born via c-sections.  It found those babies could have an increased risk for asthma.  A Jacksonville doctor and mom of three weigh in about the results and what questions all patients should ask to make sure a c-section is medically necessary.

Jenny Hirsch has three little ones with three very different birth stories.  Her oldest was supposed to be a home birth but after laboring at home for hours there was a change in plans.

"We had an urge to push we realized it wasn't working so we went to the hospital," says Hirsch.

At the hospital there was another detour.

"I pushed some more he was mal-positioned so he was not going to come out that way so I ended up having a C-section," says Hirsch.

The birth of her baby boy Reid, who's now 10, was definitely not the delivery she planned.

"I felt confident that everyone had done what they could to avoid it, but it was still really disappointing and the first thing I asked when they took me back was, can I get a VBAC the next time," says Hirsch.

The next time came three years later and Jenny was ready.  She worked with a chiropractor to align her body, hired a doula, a birth coach, and made sure her doctor was up for a VBAC - Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.

"I was definitely obsessively determined to do everything in my power and again I was lucky I had a good team of doctors," says Hirsch.

This time it was successful she had a vaginal birth. Dr. Chandra Adams runs Full Circle Women's Care on the Southside and she believes a 30 percent C-section rate is unnecessary and that doctors bear some responsibility.

"It's our job to be that medium towards evidence-based medicine and steer people away from being afraid of what is an acceptable risk," says Adams.

She says that doesn't always happen.

"It's happening less and less unfortunately there's a lot of fear of litigation.  We hear a lot on television about how certain outcomes could have been avoided if only a C-section have been performed and in reality a lot of those outcomes you really don't know whether or not the C-section would've avoided it," says Adams.

Dr. Adams overall C-section rate is at 19 percent and even lower for women who expect to deliver vaginally. She says some of the risk of surgery include a greater risk for infection, bleeding, and it might lead to problems with future pregnancies. According to a new study the surgery might also carry health risks for infants. New research looking at births in Scotland suggests an association between babies born by planned C-section and an increased risk for asthma.

"The bodies releases hormones at the time of delivery and babies when they're working their way through the birth canal is not a passive event. The mom is not the only one pushing the babies are spending some energy and strengthening those muscles preparing them again for taking that first breath," says Adams.

Both Doctor Adams and Hirsch agree that patients should check their doctor's C-section and VBAC rates.  Hirsch says after having three children she's also learned another lesson.  

"I read something recently written by a doctor and it said being a good girl can be hazardous to your health so sometimes you really have to stand up for yourself and know that you're doing the best thing for yourself and your baby," says Hirsch.

Dr. Adams says  it's important that providers look carefully at each individual pregnancy and decide whether a C-section is appropriate based on a woman's health and personal clinical scenario.

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