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Nearly a Third of 2007 U.S. Infants Delivered by C-Section

Rate of 32 percent is the highest ever reported in the United States

THURSDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Almost a third of births in the United States were cesarean section deliveries in 2007, an increase of 53 percent from 1996 and the highest rate ever reported in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics' March NCHS Data Brief No. 35.

Fay Menacker, of the NCHS, an agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a colleague analyzed the Natality Data File from the National Vital Statistics System for the period 1996 to 2007 to identify trends in cesarean delivery overall, by state, by maternal demographics, and by gestational age.

According to the report, the U.S. cesarean rate increased from 21 percent in 1996 to 32 percent in 2007. The cesarean rates by race/ethnic group all increased over the decade, with American Indians/Alaskan Natives having the lowest rates in 1996 and 2007 (18 and 28 percent, respectively) and Non-Hispanic blacks the highest (22 and 34 percent, respectively). The cesarean rate increased 36 percent for gestational age less than 34 weeks and increased almost 50 percent for gestational age at 34 weeks or more. Cesarean rates by state ranged from less than 25 percent in Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah to over 35 percent in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia.

"In addition to clinical reasons, non-medical factors suggested for the widespread and continuing rise of the cesarean rate may include maternal demographic characteristics (e.g., older maternal age), physician practice patterns, maternal choice, more conservative practice guidelines, and legal pressures," the authors write.

More Information

Physician's Briefing