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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009 Dec;107(3):198-201. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2009.08.017. Epub 2009 Sep 26.

Inequalities in cesarean delivery rates by ethnicity and hospital accessibility in Brazil.

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Programa de Pós Graduação em Ciências Médicas, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.



To investigate inequalities in cesarean delivery rates in Brazil according to ethnic group and level of access to hospital delivery.


Cross-sectional analysis of data for primiparous women with singleton deliveries between 2003 and 2004 from the National Information System of Live-Births (6,064,799 live births). Robust Poisson regression modeling was applied to estimate prevalence ratios of cesarean deliveries for ethnic group and level of access to hospital delivery according to residence.


There were 2,438,180 primiparous deliveries and the cesarean rate was 45.8%. Ethnic inequalities in cesarean delivery rates showed lower rates for all ethnic groups compared with white women, with the lowest rates recorded for indigenous women. The association between ethnicity and cesarean delivery was higher in states with lower access to hospital (P<0.001). Multiple regression models showed that this association was, in part, explained by older maternal age and higher levels of education and prenatal care.


Overuse of cesarean delivery and strong evidence of ethnic inequalities in cesarean rates exist in Brazil. The inequalities are greater in states with lower access to hospital and were partially explained by socioeconomic factors and prenatal care, suggesting a misuse of medical technology at birth.

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