Study: U.S. C-Section Rate Reaches All-Time High
July 19, 2011
Feel like you know more and more women who have delivered babies via c-section? You’re not mistaken; a new study finds that rates of cesarean section deliveries in the U.S. increased to 34 percent in 2009, an all-time high, reports MSNBC.
The study was performed by HealthGrades, which offers quality and cost information about doctors and hospitals. The researchers examined the rate c-section deliveries of single births from 2002 through 2009 in the 19 states with publicly available health data. During that period, the rate increased from 27 percent to 34 percent. When the U.S. c-section rate was first measured in 1965, it was just 4.5%, they note. As of 2009, the highest c-section rates were found in Florida (38.6%), New Jersey (38.0%) and Texas (35.9%), and the lowest in Utah (22.4%), Wisconsin (25.2%) and Colorado (27.3%).
"In many cases of C‐section in recent years, the benefits may be questionable and important healthcare organizations, including the Joint Commission and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have endorsed safely reducing C‐sections rates in certain types of pregnancies," the study researchers wrote. And the World Health Organization has suggested that the c-section rate should be 15 percent.
The report lists a number of factors associated with the rise in c-sections:
- Common labor practices that can increase the likelihood of needing a C‐section, such as induction of labor or having an epidural early in labor
- Convenience in delivery timing for the provider or the mother
- Increase in maternal age, which increases the risk for complications during pregnancy and delivery
- Increase in maternal risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes
- Increase in number of women who have multiple births (e.g., twins, triplets), sometimes due to the increase in fertility treatments associated with advancing age for first time mothers
- Increasing willingness of physicians to perform C‐sections
- Limited understanding by the mother of the potentially serious complications of C‐section
- Maternal‐requested C‐sections
- Physician fear of malpractice claims if they do not perform a C‐section
- Established physician practice patterns
"Although C‐sections are generally considered safe, it is important to understand that a C-section is still a major surgical procedure that includes serious risks to mothers and babies, including blood clots in the mother and respiratory complications in the newborn," the study authors wrote.
Have you had a c-section? If so, what was your experience like?