Pregnant women who opt for a second Caesarean delivery have babies who are less likely to suffer serious health problems, research suggests.
In women who have had the operation once before, mother and baby suffered fewer complications if there was a planned Caesarean delivery rather than a normal birth, a study found.
Experts calculated that one baby death - or near death - would be prevented for every 66 planned repeat Caesarean sections.
Published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine, the research involved 2,345 women recruited from 14 Australian hospitals who had had one previous Caesarean but were eligible for a subsequent normal vaginal birth. They were split into two equal groups, mostly depending on whether the women wanted a normal or Caesarean birth, and the risks of both types of birth were analysed.
The results showed that the risk of the baby being stillborn or dying in the first few days of life, and the risk of the baby suffering a serious outcome, was lower in the Caesarean group than in the vaginal birth group.
Overall, 10 babies (0.9%) in the Caesarean group suffered these problems, compared with 30 (2.4%) in the vaginal birth group. Women in the Caesarean group also suffered less serious blood loss - nine women, or 0.8% of the group, compared with 29 (2.3%) in the other group.