A new report released today by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) revealed that from 1996 to 2007, cesarean rates increased for all women, regardless of age, race, Hispanic origin, state of residence or gestational age of their infant or infants at birth.
In 2007, 32% of the approximately 1.4 million births in the United States were by cesarean section, the highest rate ever recorded in the United States and higher than the rates in most industrialized countries. The cesarean rate increased most rapidly between 2000 and 2007.
The report also revealed that the number of cesarean sections increased by 71% from 1996 to 2007 (797,119 to 1,367,049).
Cesarean section was the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the U.S. in 2006 and the risks to mother and infant associated with the surgery have been a topic of debate for over 25 years. According to the NCHS, suggested explanations for the rise in the cesarean rate for eleven consecutive years include many nonmedical reasons, such as maternal demographics, physicians’ practice preferences, maternal request and fear of litigation.
While cesarean rates rose significantly in each state from 1996 to 2007, the magnitude of the rise varied from state to state, including 34 states with increases of more than 50% and six states with increases of more than 70%.
Figures 1-4 appear in full report available online here.