Highest C-Section Rate Demonstrates Need for National Obstetric Guidelines, Says Amnesty International

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Highest C-Section Rate Demonstrates Need for National Obstetric Guidelines, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International
today pointed to new government figures showing the highest-ever rate of
Caesarean sections as more evidence the United States needs to adopt
guidelines
for the use of obstetric procedures to begin reversing rising pregnancy
complications and maternal deaths.

Amnesty International, in its recent
report,
Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,
called
on President Obama and Congress to create an Office of Maternal Care to
deal with systemic failures in care that have placed the United States
behind 40 other countries in terms of maternal deaths, including
virtually
all industrialized countries.  The human rights organization says
that nothing short of a comprehensive look at the catalogue of problems
associated with maternal care will begin to bring down the number of
deaths
and serious complications.

The National Center for Health
Statistics
reported that the Caesarean rate reached 32 percent in 2007, the highest
rate ever.  C-sections have become the most common operation in American
hospitals.

The Amnesty International report
(available
at: www.amnestyusa.org/deadlydelivery)
finds that many women are not sufficiently informed about the risks of
medical interventions and procedures like c-sections or given the
opportunity
to actively participate in care decisions.

"Too often, women are not sufficiently
informed about the risks and benefits of the maternal care and
procedures
they face," said Rachel Ward, Amnesty International USA research and
policy director and a co-author of the Deadly Delivery report.
 "The
U.S. government must see to it that women are aware more fully of the
risks
of interventions.  This is both an ethical obligation and a
responsibility
under international human rights standards
."

The risk of death following c-sections
is
three times higher than for vaginal births, and c-sections also increase
risks in future pregnancies.

In addition to outlining problems
ranging
from insufficient postpartum care and lower rates of prenatal care among
racial and ethnic minorities, Amnesty International's report called for
national evidence-based guidelines for medical procedures, noting that
there is a significant variation from state to state and hospital to
hospital.
 For example, state c-section rates range from 38 percent in New Jersey
to 22 percent in Utah.

The report found, for example, that the
use
of compression stockings following c-sections is not consistently
followed
in the United States while in other countries, such as the U.K., their
use lowers the rate of blood clots following c-sections.  Blood clots
are a leading cause of maternal deaths.

The United States government set a goal
of
reducing c-section rates to 15 percent for low-risk, first-time mothers
under the Healthy Peoples 2010 objectives, established in 1998, but has
failed to meet the goal.

"Too many unnecessary c-sections are
being performed; that is clear," said Ward.  "And the government's
failure to meet its own goals after 12 years suggests a new approach is
necessary -- one that tackles the range of maternal health care
deficiencies
in a comprehensive, consistent way."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace
Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for
human
rights worldwide.  The organization investigates and exposes abuses,
educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever
justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

###

We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

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