Caesareans delayed to cash in on baby bonus

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The Independent Online

Pregnant women in Australia who are planning Caesarean births are trying to delay their operations until 1 July to cash in on the government's A$3,000 (£1,125) "baby bonus" beginning in the new fiscal year.

Pregnant women in Australia who are planning Caesarean births are trying to delay their operations until 1 July to cash in on the government's A$3,000 (£1,125) "baby bonus" beginning in the new fiscal year.

Several hospitals are fully booked for scheduled Caesarean sections on the first two days of next month because women delayed the planned births until the new payment begins, Sydney's Daily Telegraph said. Those who give birth before 30 June will receive just A$700.

The government announced the bonus on 11 May as part of a big-spending budget, which some critics agree is designed to win votes in elections due before Christmas.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, was not convinced that the new policy had affected the timing of Caesarean sections. "If that were happening, I would be concerned. Whether it's happening, it's very hard to tell," Mr Howard said yesterday.

Doctors concerned about the medical implications have asked the Health Minister, Tony Abbott, to hasten the start date, but the government says there is not enough time to pass a new bill to change the date before it goes into effect. Doctors in Sydney met this week to plan for the mini baby boom.

Andrew Child, director of obstetrics and gynaecology at Royal Prince Alfred, said the ideal time for a planned Caesarean was in the week leading up to the due date, but some women were trying to book 10 days after the due date.

"Once they go 10 days past their due date, there starts to be risk to the baby," Dr Child said. "It is not worth A$3,000 to put your baby's whole life at risk."

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