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Vital Signs Blog

C-section 'epidemic' among hot issues at OB-GYN conference

The “cesarean epidemic” will be one of the featured issues at the 62nd annual American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting in Chicago
The “cesarean epidemic” will be one of the featured issues at the 62nd annual American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting in Chicago from April 26 to April 30. The conference will also include sessions on the “moral imperative of contraception use” and U.S. maternal mortality patterns.

An estimated 1 out of every 3 women who gave birth in the United States in 2011 underwent a C-section, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics (PDF), which found a 60% increase in cesareans since 1996.


The sharp increase ignited concerns of overuse, and highlighted the need for evidence proving C-sections improved maternal and newborn outcomes when compared with vaginal delivery. Many hospitals have focused on reducing inappropriate use of C-sections.

Once a woman has a C-section, she is more likely to need the surgery if she gives birth again. Although the procedure can be lifesaving for women in emergency situations, patient safety experts say many pregnant women and their physicians schedule these surgeries for convenience. Like any operation, C-sections carry risks, including potential infections, blood loss and scarring, and the maternal mortality rate for cesareans is higher than for vaginal birth.

The procedures are also more expensive. For women with newborns who had employer-provided health insurance the average total charge for cesarean births was $51,125, compared with $32,093 for vaginal births, according to a 2013 report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform looking at the cost of having a baby in the U.S. Insurance payments for maternal and newborn care were nearly $28,000 for cesarean births but just over $18,000 for vaginal births.



Follow Sabriya Rice on Twitter: @MHSRice






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