Female obstetricians are less likely to perform cesarean sections than their male counterparts, a study review found.
The researchers collected data from 15 studies from around the world that covered more than 1.2 million births from female and male doctors, as well as 11 studies that used hypothetical scenarios to rate 4,911 obstetricians based on their preferences. The review is in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Overall, female obstetricians were 25 percent less likely to have a c-section than male doctors. In studies that used criteria such as the position of the fetus or the onset of labor, women doctors were less likely to have a caesarean section under the same clinical circumstances. Babies of similar gestational age, for example, were more likely to be delivered by caesarean section if a male obstetrician was responsible.
Given the same hypothetical birth scenario, women were more than 40 percent less likely than men to choose a cesarean section, and women were less likely than men to consent to a maternal request for a cesarean section without medical need.
It is unclear why these differences exist. The lead author, Dr. Ilir Hoxha, an associate professor in Dartmouth, suggested that women might be more sensitive to the mother at a difficult moment, that men in general are more inclined to use procedures, and that men, particularly in the United States, may be more afraid before litigation.
But he said, “We cannot confirm explanations. These are things that might be important for further investigation. "