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Long-time area obstetrician retires


A central New York physician who helped deliver more than 8,000 babies is retiring.  Dr. Richard Aubrey has seen the medical world change dramatically since he began his career as an obstetrician 50 years ago.

When Dr. Aubrey started delivering babies in the early 1960s, the rates for Caesarean section was between five and seven percent, and when you performed one, it was under a lot of scrutiny. Now the rate is between 35 and 36 percent, for a number of reasons.

"Women are having children at an advanced maternal age," Aubrey said. "There's more diabetes, more hypertension, more obesity and less tolerance for discomfort of labor, and technological expertise on the part of the provider including anesthesia, blood replacement and antibiotics. These two things have produced a perfect storm, I'm sorry to say."

He says it's not just the attitude from the medical profession that's created this.

"I detect that somehow women have lost the conviction that they can do this, that it is natural." Aubrey said. "They don't need all these technologies."

And he worries about statistics in recent years that show a higher rate of maternal death connected to repeat caesarians.

During his 50 years in the baby delivering business, he's also taught thousands of medical students, published dozens of scientific publications, presided over efforts to reduce central New York's high infant mortality rate in the 1990s, and established one of the nation's first centers that serves high risk pregnancies.

What's one thing Aubrey learned over the years that he wishes he'd known when he started delivering babies all those years ago?

"In the beginning, I wish I'd had a better appreciation for the psycho, social, economic, cultural framework within which this whole miracle occurs," Aubrey said. "I have come to realize the importance of that, over time."

While not practicing medicine anymore, Aubrey, who is now 80, will impart his experience as a professor emeritus at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.