A UC Davis Medical Center study that appeared in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that
mothers facing a breech birth are better off scheduling a Caesarean section delivery because a vaginal
breech delivery can be dangerous to the infant. A breech birth means the baby is not aligned in the womb
for a head-first delivery.
"It's been debated for some time which type of delivery is safer," said William Gilbert, professor and
vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and lead author of the study. "What we found
is that no breech baby should really be delivered vaginally."
Gilbert's research examined more than 3.2 million births in California between 1991 and 1999. Of the
100,000 breech presentations identified, 4,952 women delivered vaginally. Previous studies had found that
vaginal breech deliveries were probably not safe, but Gilbert further refined his group.
"We know that first babies are a little more difficult deliveries than second, third and fourth babies,"
said Gilbert. "Other studies found that infant mortality increases with vaginal breech delivery, but we
found that this risk is only significant if it is the mother's first baby." Further, babies were more
likely to be injured during a vaginal breech birth.
"I hope this study will put a nail in the coffin of those arguments that say we need to do vaginal breech
deliveries," he said.