Trends in Low-risk Cesarean Delivery in the United States, 1990–2013

A new NCHS report explores trends in low-risk cesarean delivery at a national level, with particular focus on changes from 2009 through 2013. Trends are examined by state of residence, gestational age, age of mother, and race and Hispanic origin of mother. An earlier report based on birth certificate data, using a slightly different definition, explored low-risk trends from 1990 through 2003

Key Findings from the Report: 

  • The low-risk cesarean delivery rate reached a low of 18.4% in 1997 and then rose steadily to a high of 28.1% in 2009. The rate decreased from 2009 through 2013, reaching 26.9%. Declines were widespread during this time.
  • Low-risk cesarean delivery rates were down for more than one-half of states.
  • Rates declined for all term gestational ages (37 or more completed weeks); the largest decline was at 38 weeks, down 9%.
  • Rates for all maternal age groups and race and Hispanic origin groups were also down. The largest declines were for women under 40 (6%–8%) and for non-Hispanic white women (6%); rates for these groups decreased at all term gestational ages.
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