Around a third of children were delivered by caesarean in 2010, and the trend is growing – particularly in the country's western states where far fewer babies are born vaginally than in former East Germany.
In the Landau region in Rhineland-Palatinate for example, 51 percent of babies were delivered surgically in 2010, whereas in the eastern city of Dresden 17 percent of births required a caesarian section, figures from the Bertelsmann Foundation showed.
While western German mothers also appeared more likely to opt for the op, the main reason was the preference of doctors delivering the baby, said study author Petra Kolip. How doctors judged the risks involved with a birth varied vastly between states, she said.
“Certain situations make a caesarean necessary to save the life of the mother and child,” said Kolip. She added that in some states doctors were leaning towards a surgical birth in situations that were risky but did not rule out a natural delivery.
Other reasons for regional differences lay in both the age of the mother and how well insured they were. Older mothers tended to have more complications during pregnancy, which could necessitate surgical intervention. The new figures suggest that, on average, mothers tended to be younger in eastern states.
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A more comprehensive approach towards monitoring high-risk pregnancies such as twins and triplets, or babies in the breech position could help even out the figures said the foundation, adding that it was important to standardise the role of midwives and to offer mothers more information on their choices.