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New study claims hospitals perform “excessive” C-sections

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OKLAHOMA CITY - In recent years, C-sections have become commonplace in the delivery room.

In 1965, only 4.5 percent of mothers delivered a baby by cesarean section.

That number has grown astronomically over the years.

Last year, 32 percent of moms had their babies through a C-section in the United States.

But, doctors want to caution parents.

“C-section is a major abdominal surgery. It's a surgery no different than any other abdominal surgery, and it's the most common abdominal surgery, so it carries all of the same risk," said Dr. Chad Smith, an OBGYN with OU Physicians.

A new survey by the Leapfrog Group shows hospitals are reporting staggeringly high C-section rates.

In fact, one in three mothers likely had their babies delivered via C-section across the country.

However, many hospitals refused to report their statistics, so researchers can't get a clear picture of the exact number of C-sections being performed.

"In Oklahoma, specifically we asked 70 hospitals to respond to this survey and only six of them responded. That's just not enough,” said Jillian Laffrey, at The Leapfrog Group.

Expert say one reason for the uptick - your doctor's convenience.

"There was an interesting study that came out of HCA that looked at the timing of C-sections throughout the day, and there was very definitive spikes around 6 to 7 o'clock in the morning, 12 to 1 o'clock in the afternoon and then 5 to 7 p.m. in the evening time," Smith said.

Experts believe that many are performed before the baby is ready to come into the world.

In 2011, the Oklahoma State Department of Heath started an initiative  to curb early deliveries.

"These infants that are being delivered early are actually ending up with some more problems after they're delivered that can be avoided," said Jill Nobles-Botkin, with the Oklahoma State Health Department.

And, they say they're seeing results from the initiative.

"We saw a 96 percent decrease in early elective deliveries like C-sections and inductions and we got 90 percent of the hospitals to participate in this initiative," Botkin said.

It's a baby step for a more natural approach to giving birth.

Doctors agree C-section is sometimes necessary to save a baby's life.

But, a natural delivery can help ensure both a healthy baby and mom, which can also help them bond.

“Baby delivers, and we take baby straight to mom's chest, do skin-to-skin contact, initiate breast-feeding in that first few minutes of life. With a C-section, that may not always be a good process,” Smith said.