MONDAY, Aug. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Breech babies are much more likely to die during vaginal delivery compared with cesarean section, according to a new study.
Breech deliveries -- when the baby is positioned to come out with the legs and buttocks first instead of the head -- account for up to 4 percent of births.
Researchers looked at more than 58,000 women in the Netherlands who had term breech deliveries between 1999 and 2007. They found that the risk of death was 10 times higher for breech babies delivered vaginally than for those delivered by C-section.
Elective C-section rates for breech deliveries rose from 24 percent to 60 percent during the study period, resulting in a decrease in infant deaths from 1.3 to 0.7 per 1,000, the study found. The researchers concluded that there needed to be 338 C-sections to prevent one death.
However, the investigators were unable to identify pregnancy-related factors that increased the risk of infant death during vaginal breech birth, according to the study published Aug. 11 in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.
"While elective C-section has improved neonatal outcomes, there is still a good number of women who attempt vaginal birth," said lead author Dr. Floortje Vlemmix of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Amsterdam.
"Our findings suggest there is still room for improvement to prevent unnecessary risk to the infant," Vlemmix added. She recommended using measures to turn the baby to prevent breech presentation at birth and counseling women who want to proceed with a vaginal breech birth.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about breech birth.
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