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U.S. Cesarean Rate Reaches (Another) Record High

2009 Statistics

21 December 2010

U.S. Cesarean Rate Reaches (Another) Record High
32.9% of Births Resulting In Major Abdominal Surgery; 13th Consecutive Year to Show Increase

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the cesarean rate hit another record high in 2009, with a preliminary rate of 32.9 percent. The findings reflect the 13th consecutive year of increase. This rate roughly equates to 1,359,105 out of the 4,131,019 births in the United States in 2009 resulting in a cesarean. Nearly one in three babies were delivered via cesarean in 2009.

“Cesareans are far from the niche occurrence of yesteryear. Every woman in her childbearing years MUST sit up and take notice of this alarming and astonishing rate of surgical delivery,” says ICAN President Desirre Andrews.*

The primary cesarean rate continues to rise, meaning that even women without a prior cesarean and those with prior vaginal births are affected. For those who have previously had a cesarean, access to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) support continues to fade regardless of this year’s statements from the NIH and ACOG supporting VBAC as a safe option. “The rising cesarean rate and the resulting consequences are not going to go away on their own,” says Andrews. “Now more than ever, women and babies need access to evidence-based care.”

Evidence shows that cesareans place women and babies at increased risk for morbidity and mortality immediately and long term. Cesarean sections are being overused in the United States and the rising rate places women and babies under these risks avoidably.

When a cesarean is medically necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved. Potential risks to babies from cesareans include: low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory problems, and lacerations. Potential risks to women include: hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, surgical mistakes, re-hospitalization, placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, and increased percentage of maternal death. http://ican-online.org/ican-white-papers

* ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean.

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