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NIH Consens State Sci Statements. 2006 Mar 27-29;23(1):1-29.

NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on cesarean delivery on maternal request.

[No authors listed]



To provide health care providers, patients, and the general public with a responsible assessment of currently available data on cesarean delivery on maternal request.


A non-DHHS, nonadvocate 18-member panel representing the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, preventive medicine, biometrics, family planning and reproductive physiology, nurse midwifery, anesthesiology, patient safety, epidemiology, pediatrics, perinatal medicine, urology, urogynecology, general nursing, inner city public health sciences, law, psychiatry, and health services research. In addition, 18 experts from pertinent fields presented data to the panel and conference audience.


Presentations by experts and a systematic review of the literature prepared by the RTI International-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center, through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Scientific evidence was given precedence over anecdotal experience.


The panel drafted its statement based on scientific evidence presented in open forum and on published scientific literature. The draft statement was presented on the final day of the conference and circulated to the audience for comment. The panel released a revised statement later that day at This statement is an independent report of the panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the Federal Government.


The incidence of cesarean delivery without medical or obstetric indications is increasing in the United States, and a component of this increase is cesarean delivery on maternal request. Given the tools available, the magnitude of this component is difficult to quantify. There is insufficient evidence to evaluate fully the benefits and risks of cesarean delivery on maternal request as compared to planned vaginal delivery, and more research is needed. Until quality evidence becomes available, any decision to perform a cesarean delivery on maternal request should be carefully individualized and consistent with ethical principles. Given that the risks of placenta previa and accreta rise with each cesarean delivery, cesarean delivery on maternal request is not recommended for women desiring several children. Cesarean delivery on maternal request should not be performed prior to 39 weeks of gestation or without verification of lung maturity, because of the significant danger of neonatal respiratory complications. Maternal request for cesarean delivery should not be motivated by unavailability of effective pain management. Efforts must be made to assure availability of pain management services for all women. NIH or another appropriate Federal agency should establish and maintain a Web site to provide up-to-date information on the benefits and risks of all modes of delivery.

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