New report shows vaginal birth after cesarean is safe for most women

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

A new report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) is a safe and reasonable choice for the majority of women. Each year, more than 1 million cesarean surgeries are performed. Nearly one in three births was cesarean in the United States in 2007. A steady increase in repeat cesarean births over the past decade has been attributed, in part, to studies that suggested there may be significant harms associated with VBAC.

Investigators at the AHRQ-sponsored Oregon Health and Science University Evidence-based Practice Center found evidence that showed that, while rare for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean, maternal mortality was significantly higher for elective repeat cesarean. Risks for uterine rupture and perinatal death remain rare but elevated for trial of labor.

Other important outcomes such as hemorrhage/transfusion, adhesions, surgical injury, and wound complications remain uncertain due to lack of consistent definition and reporting. Investigators also found increasing evidence that women with multiple cesarean deliveries were at significant risk of life-threatening conditions.

You can view the report, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: New Insights.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: New report shows vaginal birth after cesarean is safe for most women: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA37.html