MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Continuing a 12-year climb,
cesarean deliveries reached a record high in 2008, accounting for
almost one-third of the births in the United States, a new report
"Rates have been going up since 1996 across the board for all age groups and all ethnic groups," said Michelle Osterman, co-author of the study and an analyst with the National Center for Health Statistics. "The increase from year to year has been steadily declining since about 2002 and that's a good thing . . . but it's certainly not stopping."
Although cesarean delivery is clearly called for in certain
cases (if the mother has preeclampsia or is diabetic), often it
carries greater risks than vaginal delivery, Osterman said.
"Vaginal delivery should be preferred to cesarean, where the complication rate is way higher," said Dr. Mitchell Maiman, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. "And with [subsequent] C-sections, complications go dramatically higher, bleeding, hysterectomy, even death."
Reasons for the trend, which has increased 56 percent since
1996, range from mother preferences to doctors' fears of lawsuits,
Efforts to counteract the C-section boom have resulted in
growing support for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), whereby a
mother is given the option of delivering vaginally, even though the
previous birth was via C-section.
Meanwhile, the small baby boom seen earlier in the decade seems
to have tapered off, with U.S. birth rates actually declining 2
percent between 2007 and 2008, to 4,251,095 births, according to
Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2008. The 2007 birth rate was the highest ever.
"I'm not surprised that birth rates are dropping in the U.S.," said Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, section chief of maternal-fetal medicine and surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "We've been talking about this ever since the economic downfall, which occurred a couple of years ago. As a physician, I have no doubt that this is the result of the economic downfall."
A look at vital statistics records in the 50 states and the
District of Columbia also revealed that while the birth rate among
15- to 39-year-old women declined by 1 percent (the first decrease
since 1978), the rate among women 40 and older increased 4 percent
from 2007 to 2008 and is now the highest rate seen in 40 years.
The report, compiled by the National Center for Health
Statistics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,
is published online Dec. 20 and in the January print issue of the
Pediatrics. Other findings include:
U.S. National Library of Medicine has more o...esarean delivery.
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