Around six in 10 women who give birth in Greece do so via cesarean delivery, compared to an average of 25 percent in the 28-member European Union, an assessment by medical experts has indicated.
Specifically, between 50 and 70 percent of women who give birth in Greek hospitals have C-sections, experts say. Recent research showed that the rate of cesarean deliveries at the capital’s Helena Venizelou Maternity Hospital is 63.1 percent. The rates at private hospitals tend to be higher.
Even the EU average of 25 percent overshoots the “ideal cesarean delivery rate” of 15 percent as recommended by the World Health Organization.
The key reason for the very high rates in Greece appears to be the impatience of women, or their doctors, to speed up delivery. According to George Farmakides, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York’s Stony Brook University, C-sections are often carried out in Greece after the doctor induces labor. The international criteria for when labor should be induced are “rarely followed,” Farmakides said.
Other Southern European countries also have high rates of cesarean. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the rate in Italy is 36 percent and in Portugal 35 percent. In Turkey the rate is 50.4 percent while in Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands that rate ranges from 15.2 to 16.5 percent.