The regular use of Caesarean sections is having an impact on human evolution, say scientists. More mothers now need surgery to deliver a baby due to their narrow pelvis size, according to a study.
Researchers estimate cases where the baby cannot fit down the birth canal have increased from 30 in 1,000 in the 1960s to 36 in 1,000 births today. Historically, these genes would not have been passed from mother to child as both would have died in labour.
Researchers in Austria say the trend is likely to continue, but not to the extent that non-surgical births will become obsolete. Dr Philipp Mitteroecker, of the department of theoretical biology at the University of Vienna, said there was a long standing question in the understanding of human evolution.
“Why is the rate of birth problems, in particular what we call fetopelvic disproportion – basically that the baby doesn’t fit through the maternal birth canal – why is this rate so high?” he said. “Without modern medical intervention such problems often were lethal and this is, from an evolutionary perspective, selection. Women with a very narrow pelvis would not have survived birth 100 years ago. They do now and pass on their genes encoding for a narrow pelvis to their daughters.”