NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Pregnant women who have a cesarean delivery appear to be more likely to suffer a stroke during the following year than women who give birth normally, researchers in Taiwan have shown.

Dr. Herng-Ching Lin and colleagues at Taipei Medical University report this finding from a study of medical records from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. The information covered 987,010 singleton births between 1998 and 2002, 34 percent of which were delivered by c-section.

At 3, 6, and 12 months after delivery, rates of stroke among the mothers were 67 percent, 61 percent, and 49 percent higher, respectively, following cesarean rather than vaginal birth, the investigators report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

However, they also point out that the absolute risk of stroke was very low. The cumulative rate for the entire 12-month period was only 0.05 percent after vaginal delivery and 0.08 percent after cesarean delivery.

Nonetheless, “a strategy of prevention should be developed for those mothers in the cesarean section delivery group who are at a higher risk of stroke,” Lin and associates conclude.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, April 2008.