April 12 (UPI) — The risk of infection after cesarean delivery, or C-section, is higher for women insured by Medicaid, a new study shows.

Medicaid-insured women have a 1.4-fold increase in infection versus those with private insurance, according to research published in April in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“The findings force researchers to look beyond the usual suspects behind surgical site infections,” said Sarah Yi, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and study lead author, in a news release. “More investigation is needed to determine why women with Medicaid health insurance had a much greater burden of surgical site infections after cesarean delivery than insured women.”

The researchers think the infection risk may result from lack of patient literacy, a patient’s living condition, their preparedness after discharge and other economic factors.

About one-third of babies are born via C-section in the U.S., according to the study. And 40 percent of those births are by mothers insured by Medicaid.

C-section deliveries can be lifesaving for mothers but also come with risks beyond infections. Babies born to C-section are more likely to have transient tachypnea, a breathing disorder that causes fast breathing during the first few days of birth.

“There is a gap in our understanding of health equity when it comes to healthcare-associated infections,” Yi said. “Future research is needed to identify, understand and reduce potential disparities in healthcare-associated infections related to socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, race/ethnicity and rural residence.”

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