McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Researchers study impact of type of childbirth on health, use of services

Published: May 25, 2006
Wendy Sword
Wendy Sword

A better understanding of how the health of women and their babies is affected based on the type of childbirth they experience is the focus of a research project being led by a McMaster University researcher.

Wendy Sword, assistant dean (Research), for McMaster’s School of Nursing, is the principle investigator on the four-year study that will involve 3,800 women in cities throughout Ontario.

The Ontario Mother and Infant Study (TOMIS) III will collect information during the first year following childbirth to determine how the type of birth – vaginal delivery or caesarean section delivery – impacts on the health of mother and baby, as well as use of health care services. The research will examine what services are used during the first year, frequency of use and the costs of services.

Although previous research has identified differences in both maternal and infant health and service use based on the type of delivery, this is the first Canadian study that will follow the study participants for a full year to examine health, service use and costs.

The study is particularly important given the increasing rate of caesarean section births, which is partially driven by the number of women choosing a C-section for non-medical reasons.

More than one in four babies in Ontario is delivered by caesarean section.

The $620,000 project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Sword said the findings will provide information about outcomes related to childbirth method that will be useful to women and health care providers who are making decisions about type of delivery. The findings will also assist policy makers, health care administrators and health professionals plan and deliver timely, appropriate and cost-effective services for women and their newborns.

"The results of Dr. Sword’s research will enable women, their partners and families, doctors, midwives and public health policy makers to make better decisions about the relative benefits, risks and costs of alternate modes of delivery for child birth," said Dr. Michael Kramer, Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.

The project will involve women from 10 hospitals in Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury and Thunder Bay.


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