Vaginal Birth: iVillage Pregnancy & Parenting


Another tip-off is a willingness to distort data. The 1998 VBAC guidelines cite a single study as the other rationale besides reducing liability for revising the guidelines. The sole study with this finding, it concluded that “major maternal complications” were twice as likely in women laboring compared with women having elective cesareans,. However, as a preeminent VBAC researcher points out, the authors coded wound infections and hemorrhage requiring transfusion as “minor complications,” both of which occurred more often in the planned cesarean group. If you make these major complications, as would normally be the case, the difference between the two groups disappears. Even without doing this, he adds, major complication rates were quite low--a bit less than one percent in the planned cesarean group, a bit more than one percent in the labor group.

Dr. Greene, the New England Journal editorialist obstetrician, provides another example of data distortion. He leaps from the limited finding that VBAC, at least barring prostaglandin use, slightly increases the risk of uterine rupture to the sweeping statement that VBAC is more dangerous than repeat cesarean. He treats a risk factor, uterine rupture, as the actual devastating outcome, stillbirth or newborn death. Both are such elementary errors of proper scientific approach for an assistant editor at a prominent medical journal that it strongly suggests he has an axe to grind.

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Learn more about the biases against VBAC

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