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Am J Public Health. 1987 Aug;77(8):955-9.

Trends in the United States cesarean section rate and reasons for the 1980-85 rise.


The rate of cesarean section delivery in the United States rose from 4.5 per 100 deliveries in 1965 to 22.7 in 1985, and in 1985 an estimated 851,000 live births were cesarean deliveries, according to data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey. This increase has been observed for all ages, and within all regions of the country. The rate for teenagers and mothers aged 20 to 29 was five to six times as high in 1985 as in 1965, and four times as high for mothers aged 30 years and older. Repeat cesareans account for an increasing share of all cesarean deliveries; in 1985 one in three cesareans were repeats. The increase in the cesarean rate of 6.2 percentage points between 1980 and 1985 (from 16.5 to 22.7) was partitioned according to five complications of delivery recorded on hospital discharge records: previous cesarean delivery, breech presentation, dystocia, fetal distress, and all other complications. Nearly half (48 per cent) of the increase was associated with previous cesarean delivery, 29 per cent with dystocia, 16 per cent with fetal distress, 5 per cent with breech presentation, and 2 per cent with all other complications.

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