Study shows rate of C-section births at an all-time high

Cesarean section births on the rise. Via Flickr Commons

A recent study by Health Grades has shown that the rate of C-section births was at 34% in 2009, the highest it’s ever been. Researchers studied public health data from 2002 to 2009, a span during which C-section birth rate rose from 27% to 34%.

Jacqueline Wolf, a researcher at Ohio University (who wasn’t involved in the study) said “Obviously, a 34 percent C-section rate is far too high…Medical reasons alone cannot possibly explain why more than one in three American women need major abdominal surgery in order to safely give birth.”

A C‐section or cesarean section is a procedure wherin a baby is removed from the uterus when a vaginal delivery could risk the health of the mother or the baby. C-sections are also performed when a prior C‐section makes vaginal delivery difficult or dangerous.

Researchers wrote that benefits of C-sections have come into question in recent years and some healthcare organizations, including the Joint Commission and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have advocated a safe reduction of C‐sections rates in certain types of pregnancies. The World Health Organization has recommended a C-section rate of 15 percent.

The new study cites many factors for the increase in C-sections, including practices such as labor induction and epidural use (which can lead to complications that can lead to C-sections) and more commonly occurring conditions that can make a C-section more likely, like obesity, diabetes, multiple babies and increased age. Convenience is a factor too, as some moms and physicians go with a C-section just to make the timing of the birth more convenient.

The rising rate isn’t without risk. The study authors are quoted as saying “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.”