U.S. 2016 Cesarean & Preterm Birth Stats Now Available & Not Much to Cheer About

by | Jul 5, 2017 | Improving Birth

Consumer Reports announces the publication of the latest U.S. birth statistics. The 2016 cesarean rate was 31.9%, continuing a decline for the fourth year in a row, but don’t break out the pom-poms because the 4-year reduction amounts to a mere single percentage point off the high of 32.9%. Rates in low-risk 1st-time mothers (one, full-term, head-down baby) also fell from 25.8% in 2015 to 25.7% in 2016, again, hardly cause to open the champagne. Rates differed by race/ethnicity, ranging from 28.0% in American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) women to 30.9% in white women to 31.7% in Hispanic women to 33.3% in Asian women to 35.9% in black women. Rates in low-risk 1st-time mothers by race/ethnicity ranged from 21.2% in AIAN women to 30.3% in black women. Total cesarean rates in the 50 states ranged from 22.3% in Utah to 38.2% in Mississippi. Five states (Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey) had cesarean rates over 35%. Rates in low-risk 1st-time mothers ranged from 16.8% in Utah to 31.8% in Mississippi with 3 states (Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey) clocking in with rates greater than 30%.

The preterm birth rate rose for the second year in a row to 9.84%. The rise was confined to births from 34 to 36 completed weeks. As with cesarean rates, preterm birth rates varied according to race/ethnicity. Asian women had the lowest rate at 8.63%, followed by white women at 9.04%, Hispanic women at 9.44%, AIAN women at 11.38%, and topping out with black women at 13.75%. The percentage of babies born weighing less than 5 lb 8 oz (2500 g) also rose for the second straight year to 8.16% and ranged from 6.97% in white women to 13.67% in black women.

This is not a pretty picture, especially considering the initiatives to reduce the cesarean rate in 1st-time mothers, the evidence supporting planned vaginal birth after cesarean for most mothers, and ongoing efforts to reduce early elective deliveries.

The Take-Away

Hop over to the Consumer Reports article for more information on cesareans and how to avoid them.


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