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C-Section Rate Drops for First Time in a Decade in U.S.
Date:11/17/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time in more than a decade, the rate of cesarean deliveries has dropped, a new U.S. government report shows.

Although the drop reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was small, from 32.9 percent in 2009 to 32.8 percent in 2010, experts say it is further evidence that the increase in cesarean births has finally leveled off.

"But with only one data point, we have to wait to see what the future holds before we can make any statements about trends," said report author Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician at the CDC's Division of Vital Statistics. "We have to wait and see what happens."

According to the CDC report, the teen birth rate has also dropped, to a record low. From 2009 to 2010 it fell 9 percent, to 34.3 births per 1,000 teen births.

That's the lowest rate ever recorded in almost 70 years of collecting data, the CDC report noted. Birth rates for younger and older teens, and for all racial and ethnic groups, reached historic lows in 2010, according to the report.

The rate of cesarean delivery had been rising for years because of doctor's concerns over possible complications and malpractice lawsuits.

However, many experts feel a full-term, vaginal birth is much better in terms of the infant's development, and recent guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend vaginal labor even for women who have had a previous cesarean delivery.

"I think the word is out that sections are riskier in the short term and in subsequent pregnancies for mom. That message is getting out to providers and directly to patients," said Dr. George A. Macones, head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is also chair of the Committee on Obstetric Practice at the American College of Obstetricians and G
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