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C-Section Rates Are High and Getting Higher

Study Shows 1 in 3 U.S. Babies Are Delivered by Cesarean Section
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 30, 2010 -- Cesarean section deliveries are at an all-time high in the U.S. and are expected to keep rising, and new government-funded research may help explain the trend.

Nearly one in three babies are now delivered surgically -- up from one in five just over a decade ago.

Previously recognized contributors to the rise include delayed childbearing, the rising obesity rate among moms-to-be, and an increase in multiple birth deliveries.

Induced Labor and C-Sections

The new analysis also found that longer labor times and an increase in induced labors are also factors.

And a sharp decline in attempted vaginal deliveries in women who have had previous C-section deliveries has certainly contributed to the trend, government investigators said Monday.

Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development analyzed data from more than 228,000 deliveries at 19 hospitals across the U.S. from 2002 to 2008.

Among their findings:

  • One in three first-time moms delivered by C-section.
  • Previous surgical birth was the most common reason for C-sections, accounting for almost a third of all cesarean deliveries.
  • The C-section rate among older moms was double that of younger ones.
  • 44% of women who attempted vaginal delivery had labor induced, and the C-section delivery rate was almost twice as high in these women as in women whose labor was spontaneous (21% vs. 12%).

The induced labor rate among the women in the study was much higher than has been seen in previous studies.

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