The number of C-section births around the world has nearly doubled since 2000, and only a fraction of those surgical procedures are medically necessary, according to a series of three papers published today by an international coalition of researchers from the World Health Organization, Yale University, King’s College London and elsewhere.

Cesarean delivery, a surgical procedure in which a baby is born via incisions in the uterus and abdomen, now accounts for 21 percent of all births around the world, according to the new findings, compared to just 12 percent 18 years ago.

The researchers behind the studies, published in the Lancet, say that only 10 to 15 percent of all births actually require the invasive surgery, and that 60 percent of countries are now performing C-sections unnecessarily.

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