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