Cast Lead Operation study shows premature delivery and cesareans more common during conflict

The prevalence of premature births was twice as high during Cast Lead as during quieter periods.

July 10, 2014 16:19
1 minute read.
A PREMATURE BABY born in an Israeli hospital

A PREMATURE BABY born in an Israeli hospital 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Forum for Premature Babies)


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Pregnant women who are suffering from anxiety are more liable to have complications such as premature childbirth and be more at risk of having a cesarean section. This was determined in new research at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. The study joins a previous piece of research that examined the medical implications on Israelis during the Cast Lead operation against Gaza terror from December 2008 to January 2009.

The rate of premature deliveries (before 34 weeks of gestation) was significantly higher during Cast Lead than in quieter times, the researchers found. The study was published this morning in the Journal of Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.

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Some mothers had problems that prevented them from following a normal routine, while others had anxiety attacks, a rapid heart rate and behavioral changes, according to the study, headed by Prof. Eyal Sheiner, deputy head of Soroka and chairman of the hospital’s maternity department. The study surveyed over 25,000 women who gave birth in the hospital over several years and focused on 224 who suffered from anxiety attacks. The prevalence of premature births was twice as high during Cast Lead as during quieter periods.

Surprisingly, the mothers’ emotional difficulties did not cause harm to the newborns. There is an acute connection between anxiety and premature birth, said Sheiner. “The research clearly shows that chronic anxiety poses a risk for early delivery.”  There were also women who asked for a cesarean delivery instead of a normal vaginal birth because they were anxious, not because their medical condition required it. The obstetricians tried to calm them and persuade them that normal deliveries were preferable, Sheiner said.

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