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Caesarean rates high in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:04 13 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

EAST Anglia has a higher proportion of births delivered by caesarean section than any other region in the country, new statistics reveal.

The latest figures, released from the Department of Health, show that 24.

EAST Anglia has a higher proportion of births delivered by caesarean section than any other region in the country, new statistics reveal.

The latest figures, released from the Department of Health, show that 24.2% of NHS hospital deliveries are through the potentially dangerous surgery, with 9.8% of women electing to give birth by caesarean rather than naturally.

The proportion of women having caesareans in the region is higher than the average for England, 22%, and also tops the rate in London. Meanwhile the percentage of emergency caesareans, 14.3%, is above the national average of 12.7%.

The East of England also has the joint lowest proportion of babies being born naturally during 2002 to 2003, with the total for spontaneous deliveries tying with the south east at 64.4%.

Elayne Guest , midwifery officer for the East Anglian region, said there had been a steady rise in caesareans over the last 15 years.

"It's worrying as it's a major operation and you've got a natural life event becoming a surgical procedure with all the attendant risks of surgical procedures, such as haemorrhages, infections, epidurals and anaesthetic."

Chris Colbourne, head of midwifery at Ipswich Hospital, said her staff delivered 3,511 babies last year either at home or in the wards, including at the Gilchrist Maternity Unit in Eye.

A total of 21.1% of deliveries were by caesarean and 69.2% were normal births – both showing better results than the national picture.

She said the figures were a reflection of the support given to women, who were "empowered and encouraged" to chose normal deliveries, and the confidence instilled in them from competent staff.

She added: "I do not have a huge recruitment and retention problem here so the midwives I have got are very experienced. There is a lot of support here for junior midwives when they qualify.

"We do not have a central delivery suite and instead we have three wards where all the care is given. This means that midwives stay very skilled in everything and do not specialise in delivery, post natal or antenatal care.

"The home birth rate is 5%. I think the key issue for us is to offer women choice and to care for women completely throughout the experience."


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