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Rise in C-sections linked to age

Four in ten Caesareans could be avoided if women gave birth in their late 20s or early 30s
The increasing number of women who are getting pregnant in their late 30s is causing a rise in the number of caesarean sections, scientists say.

Researchers at Cambridge University suggest that four in ten Caesareans could be avoided if women gave birth to their first child in their late 20s or early 30s.

After studying more than 500,000 births between 1980 and 2005 in Scotland, the research found a big leap in the number of first-time mothers having Caesareans and a striking increase in their age over the 25-year period.

They found the number of first-time pregnancies for women aged 40 or over increased tenfold, while the figure for those aged 35 to 40 went up sevenfold.

Professor Gordon Smith, who headed the research team, said: "The Caesarean rate has been rising for years and so have older pregnancies but so far no one has been able to nail down if the two things are linked.

"As more women delay childbirth, it is essential that we fully understand the effects of age on childbirth if we are to impact on rising rates of intervention in pregnancy."

Government statistics for England and Wales show that in 1981 the average age of a first-time mother was 25.3 years. In 2006, the average age was 27.6.

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