Cesarean section delivery rates in California have been rising at the same
time as increases in maternal morbidity. Experts believe that’s
because C-sections have higher risks of complications such as infection,
bleeding or blood clots when compared to vaginal births.
Given the added risk for
medical error and other adverse outcomes, we are pleased to report that the sharp rise
in Cesarean section childbirth finally may have peaked.
According to preliminary government data released last week, C-section
deliveries were down slightly in 2010—from 32.8% of all deliveries
compared to 32.9% in 2010. By contrast, the nation’s C-section rate
in 1970 was only 5%. The rising C-section birth trend has been widely
criticized because many surgical deliveries are not performed for medical
reasons, according to numerous studies.
Although C-sections increase the risk of problems in the mother and baby,
doctors have increasingly allowed a “patient-choice” C-section,
which allows women to avoid labor and effectively schedule their delivery.
In addition, doctors have also been reluctant to allow vaginal birth in
a patient with a prior C-section because of fears of being sued due to
a bad outcome.
However, the increase in the C-section rate has decelerated over the last
few years, and 2010 marks the first decline. Although no cause has yet
been determined, it is possible that doctors have finally relented to
mounting pressure to reconsider performing C-sections for non-medical
reasons, largely due to safety concerns.