In May 2006, The Dallas Morning News ran a piece about the rise in requested Caesarean sections amongst the area's "affluent, well-educated women." Turns out, according to the government, that was the year during which so-called maternal request Cesareans rose to an all-time high -- and the trend shows no signs of abating, according to today's USA Today.
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Problem is, docs have little research available about the lingering effects of having a child delivered surgically -- and whether the requested C-section is at least partially responsible for the rise in pregnancy-associated deaths, also on the rise in recent years. Kenneth Leveno, the Jack A. Pritchard Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, wants to change that with "a randomized trial of first-time mothers comparing planned C-sections with planned vaginal deliveries." Problem is, he needs 10,000 women for the study, and he'd need to follow them for at least five years -- at the estimated cost of some $75 million. "That sounds like a lot of money, but it really is not in the grand scheme of things," Leveno tells USA Today. "The problem is to get the national will necessary to do this." --Robert Wilonsky