MORE women here are giving birth by caesarean section every year, and doctors expect the number to keep on inching up.
They attribute it to older first-time mothers, more health problems like diabetes and the fear of legal action if anything goes wrong.
Caesareans here have shot up from 15% of all births in 1980 to 22% in 1990 and 30% in 2002.
The head of the pregnancy-related disease unit at KK Women and Children's Hospital, Dr Tan Kok Hian, said: About one in 10 pregnant women here suffers from diabetes, either normal or induced by the pregnancy. This is higher than in the past.
If the diabetes is not controlled, they are more likely to get big babies, which makes normal delivery difficult.
Older mothers are also more prone to hypertension. If it's very severe, we need to resort to caesarean.
About two-thirds of caesarean births in the public sector are emergency cases, often because of difficulties during labour. This ratio is double that of private hospitals.
The rest are planned.
Doctors actively discourage this as a caesarean carries a higher risk for the mother than normal delivery.
In the private sector, the number of women having a caesarean has edged up only slightly, from 33% to 35.5% between 1992 and 2002. The Straits Times/Asia News Network