More than one-in-four babies are born by Caesarean section at Mayo General Hospital, according to new figures released this week.
A report by maternity organisation AIMS Ireland, Association of Improvements in Maternity Services, showed 26.8 per cent of all deliveries at the hospital are performed by C-section.
The report also showed 35 per cent of women are exclusively breastfeeding on discharge from hospital.
The report showed wide regional variances in C-section rates. St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, had the highest rate nationally at 38 per cent, while Sligo General Hospital had the lowest at 19 per cent.
All rates in the State’s maternity hospitals exceeded the World Health Organisation (WHO ) recommended rate of 10 to 15 per cent.
A spokesperson for HSE West said the C-section rate in Ireland rose from 13 per cent in 1999 to 26.2 per cent in 2007.
This is a similar, or in some cases lower, increase than in many other developed countries, including the US.
“Optimising ‘C-section’ rates has yet to be achieved internationally,” said the spokesperson. “Analysis is ongoing to identify why Caesarean sections are done and whether the results in some hospitals are outside an acceptable norm.”
They said the variation between hospitals in their C-section rates was not surprising.
“It would be expected,” said the spokesperson. “Because this procedure is carried out based on clinical need, taking into account the individual woman's history in relation to previous births or Caesarean sections; particularly where an urgent response is needed to specific maternal or fetal monitoring abnormalities during pregnancy or labour.”
HSE West said Mayo General Hospital provides “excellent quality of care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth and in the period following the birth of their babies.”
AIMS said it released the figures, obtained from the HSE, so women could be better informed about where is best to have their baby.