More C-sections are done closer to due date
ATLANTA — Not only has the nation's high level of C-sections finally stopped rising, but more of the operations are taking place closer to the mother's due date, a government report found.
Figures released recently show what appears to be a significant shift in when pregnant women have Caesarean sections. Experts called the change great news — apparent evidence that doctors and women have absorbed warnings about the risks of C-sections and the importance of waiting to deliver until the baby is full-term.
“People are getting the message,” said Dr. Barbara Stoll, an Emory University specialist in the care of newborns.
A C-section is major surgery with risks of infection and, in very rare cases, death. Recovery time is long-er than with a vaginal delivery. And the babies are more likely to have breathing difficulties and other medical problems.
For decades, the operations were done in only a small fraction of births, usually only when a fetus was in danger. In 1970, the U.S. rate was 5 percent of all births.
By 2009, about a third of births were C-sections. Experts say many factors drove the rate up, including the convenience of scheduling deliveries.
But that rate has at least stopped rising for two years. The overall rate was again about 33 percent in 2011, the latest year available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest report focused on preliminary data for that year's single-child deliveries, which are about 96 percent of all births. The trend there was similar to the overall numbers: The C-section rate has held steady at 31 percent since 2009, after rising for a dozen straight years.
The report found very little change in C-sections through 37 weeks of gestation between 2009 and 2011. But at 38 weeks there were fewer: the rate fell 5 percent, to 32 percent.
And at 39 weeks, it rose 4 percent, to 34 percent of births. The rate at 40 weeks held steady at 25 percent.
A full-term pregnancy is 39 to 40 weeks. The changes occurred across the board, for all major racial and ethnic groups and for all ages of mothers.
CDC health statistician Michelle Osterman said they had hoped to figure out from the report why the overall rates had leveled off, but it didn't provide any answers. Health officials want to push the rate down to a goal of 15 percent.
Still, the shift to later C-sections is great news, said Dr. George Macones, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis.
“The important thing is babies born before 39 weeks have more complications than babies born at 39 weeks and beyond,” Macones said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gray wolf decision reversed
- Ghostly snailfish found at record depth
- Traffic deaths down 3 percent
- FBI’s 2001 anthrax attack investigation questioned
- Supreme Court won’t stop gay marriages in Florida
- Replacement part beamed up to space station
- Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude on interrogation tactics
- U.S., Cuba patching torn relations with historic accord
- Texas ponders allowing open carry of handguns
- Your electric car may not be so green if coal generates the electricity
- Use of U.S. steel to fix Alaska terminal causes rift with Canada