While most countries in the developed world are moving towards more natural births and breastfeeding, Mexico is going in the opposite direction, says the consumer protection organization Consumer Power.
Consumer Power says that nearly half of all births in Mexico are by cesarean section, and the number has been rising. In 2000, 29.9 percent of births among mothers aged between 20 and 49 were by c-section; in 2012 the figure had risen to 45.2 percent.
The organization says that Mexico has the highest number of c-section births in the world, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Brazil’s rate is 82 percent. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the scale are Nigeria and Ethiopia with c-section rates of 1.8 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively, which WHO says are dangerously low.
Nor are other countries moving in the opposite direction. Canada, for instance, has seen the percentage rise from 17 percent to nearly 27 percent since 1995. The United States is also seeing an increase; the rate was 22 percent in 1990 and 32.7 percent in 2010.
WHO suggests the rate ought to be about 15 percent.
Consumer Power also laments the widespread use of powdered milk in place of breastfeeding, saying that only 14.4 percent of mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively during the first six months. Six years ago that percentage was 22.3 percent, the organization says.
The trend applies to rural as well as urban areas, says spokeswoman Katia García, and is one that contributes to the current problem with obesity in Mexico.
The absence of breast milk in the diet and C-sections jointly contribute to weight gain in children and make it impossible for mothers to regain their pre-birth weight, say García and her colleagues at Consumer Power.
Earlier this month, Mexican mothers were among thousands from around the world who participated in The Big Latch On - in Mexico it is called La Gran Tetada - a synchronized, minute-long breastfeeding event intended to promote the practice.
Translated and edited by Mexico News Daily