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Thursday
Mar182010

United States Cesarean Rates by Year, 1970 to 2007

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In anticipation of the CDC releasing its 2008 preliminary birth data, including the 2008 cesarean rate, here is a chart of the cesarean rate from 1970 to 2007.

Please click here to enlarge image.

  

 

Will be updated when 2008 data becomes available. Certain years (1971-74, 1976-79, 1981-82 not shown).

 

 

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Reader Comments (21)

Interesting. Would love to see maternal and infant mortality superimposed on that...
Also, I was born in 1972. I was stuck in the birth canal b/c my mom's "tailbone" curved in. Kept hitting it and bouncing back up. Today they would have done a c-section. Back then they just broke her tailbone (yikes!). Of course, if she had not been on her back and had had a midwife, there were plenty of ways to remedy the situation with positioning. But personally, I'd take a broken tailbone over a c-section any day...

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLulu

Ditto Lulu, I'd love to see this data w/ mortality rates. Thanks for posting, very interesting and sobering.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Yes! Y'all read my mind. Let's cross-reference this with outcomes. Has *really* saved lives and improved things. I think not.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Funny, we all thought the exact same thing.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen C.

Dittoes to comments above!

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHerb of Grace

Well, we do know that the maternal mortality rate is rising. Back in 1982, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 7.5 per 100,000, in 1990 it was 8.2 per 100,000, in 2003 it was 12.1 per 100,000, and in 2005 it was 15.1 per 100,000.

Compare those numbers to that graph, and it seems to go along with it. Not only are the number of cesarean sections now higher than ever, induction of labor has more than doubled since 1990.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermichele

I think it would be interesting to see the maternal mortality rates mapped on there as well, but I would interpret them cautiously - I wrote a post about this recently: http://phdoula.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-maternal-mortality-in-us-on-rise-or.html
Basically, we have been doing a much better job of reporting maternal deaths over the past several decades (in part because of birth activists pushing for better tracking!) and that makes the trends a little more tricky to interpret: there is a not insubstantial percentage of maternal mortality difference between say, now and 1980 that is simply because a lot of deaths are getting counted now that weren't then.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Very interesting. I was surprised to see the greatest percentage increase was from 1970 to 1980 (>10%)increase), then from 2000 to 2007 (>9% increase). C/S rates seemed relatively stagnant in other decades. Can any medical historians out there think of reasons for this? There seems to be a lot of confounding factors: litigation, higher risk patients, rise of reproductive technology in the 70's, multiple births, insurance policies, hospital policies, etc.
Seeing maternal and infant mortalities superimposed would be interesting, but not necessarily informative. Like Rebecca stated, reporting mechanisms are not what they used to be in the 1970's. Very, very interesting.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterReality Rounds

I think it would be interesting, too, but I'm not sure what you could definitively infer from it. You all are going to kill me but I had thought about juxtaposing it with something random like Per Capita Annual Banana Consumption or Star Wars Action Figure Sales before I posted it. I am weird and it was really funny in my head.

March 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

@RR -- I'm not a medical historian, but the general explanation for the big jump in C-sections from the 70s onwards is that they were made so much safer they were no longer a "last resort" option. Also, they started using EFM in the 80s which (according to several studies and even ACOG itself) has not lowered perinatal mortality but has increased the rate of C-sections.

However, there are a lot of reasons for maternal mortality, so I doubt that there would be a strict correlation between C-sections and the MMR as a whole. Many states may not even code a maternal death properly, although several states have changed their death certificate paperwork to make it more likely for maternal deaths to be coded. So, better recording may lead to better statistics and an apparently higher MMR when the real rate was high all along, but we just didn't know it. I read somewhere that the CDC figures it undercounts maternal mortality by at least 30%, and I think other sources may put it even higher.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy
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