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Cesarean Rates Reach Record High
Date:3/23/2010

At least 32 percent of U.S. births are by C-section, up by 53 percent in a decade,,

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Cesarean rates have reached a record high in the United States, with nearly one-third of babies born that way in 2007, a new government report shows.

Between 1996 and 2007, the C-section rate rose by 53 percent, with similar rises seen among all age, racial and ethnic groups, according to the report released Tuesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, which used birth certificate data to arrive at this conclusion.

Six states saw increases of more than 70 percent. Those states include: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Washington and Rhode Island, although researchers said the C-section rates may have been somewhat lower to begin with in those states.

The five states with the highest C-section rates are: New Jersey (38 percent), Florida (37 percent), Mississippi (36 percent), and Louisiana and West Virginia (35 percent).

After a slight dip in the late 1990s, C-section rates began marching relentlessly upward again. The pace of the increase has accelerated since 2000, with the overall rate surging from 23 percent to 32 percent in 2007.

"These data are important because we are trying to monitor the health of women and babies, so that both professionals and the public can look at the trends," said report author Fay Menacker, a National Center for Health Statistics statistician.

There were 1.4 million cesarean births in 2007. Preterm babies had the highest rates of cesarean deliveries, as did older mothers. About 48 percent of births to women aged 40 to 54 were C-sections, compared to 23 percent of women under 20.

The rise in C-sections is probably due to a variety of factors, including older maternal age, fears of litigation and changes in the way physicians do their jobs, Menacker said. Prio
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