The number of babies born through caesarean section surgeries almost doubled globally between 2000 and 2015, three studies by medical journal The Lancet have showed. The studies reveal that C-sections increased from 16 million live births in 2000 (or 12% of all births) to 29 million live births (or 21% of all births) in 2015.

One of the studies showed that C-section deliveries in India increased to 18.5% in 2015
from just 9% 15 years earlier, The Indian Express reported. But there are wide interstate disparities, with 49% of live births in Andhra Pradesh taking place through C-section, compared to just 7% in Nagaland.

In 15 countries, more than 40% of births happen through this procedure. In 2015, use of C-section was ten times higher in Latin America and the Caribbean at 44.3% than it was in the west and central African region where it was used for just 4.1% of deliveries.

The studies, which considered C-section trends in 169 countries, found an increase of 3.7% each year between 2000 and 2015. “The global and regional increases in C-section use were driven both by an increasing proportion of births occurring in health facilities, and increases in C-section use within health facilities,” the authors said.

However, the authors also cautioned against excessive use of C-section surgeries. They said that while 10-15% of live births require C-section, most countries exceed this level.

The authors said that prevalence of maternal mortality and maternal morbidity is higher after a C-section than after vaginal birth. “C-section is associated with an increased risk of uterine rupture, abnormal placentation, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and preterm birth,” one study said. “Short-term risks of C-section include altered immune development, an increased likelihood of allergy, atopy and asthma, and reduced intestinal gut microbiome diversity.”