The Centers for Disease Control National today released the Vital Statistics Report "Births: Preliminary Data for 2006."
Several noteworthy items:
* "The cesarean delivery rate rose to 31.1 percent of all births in 2006, another record high. This represents a 3% increase over the 2005 rate. The percentage of all births delivered by cesarean has climbed 50 percent over the last decade, from 20.7% in 1996."
* At the same time, preterm birth rates also rose slightly, and significantly since 1990. In particular, according to the report, late preterm births (those delivered at 34-36 weeks) have risen from 7.3% in 1990 to 9.14% in 2006. Late preterm births are associated with increased use of induction and planned cesarean sections, because actual gestational age often cannot be accurately known.
Read ICAN International's response, which includes references to studies regarding maternal mortality increases over the same time as the cesarean rate has been increasing.
Lamaze International has posted a news alert with their take on the reported 2006 data "Women Can Improve Childbirth Outcomes By Seeking Care Providers with Low Cesarean Section Rates."
Citizens for Midwifery's fact sheet "Out of Hospital Midwifery Care: Much Lower Rates of Cesarean for Low Risk-Women" is very relevant. Of course it is important to note that the rate for all "low-risk" women is lower than the percentage for "all women."
The Final 2005 Data has also been released today.
Reports of final data generally do not have significantly different numbers than the preliminary data, but the report and analysis is much more extensive.
As this newly released data hits the media, we can use the materials noted above to write powerful letters to the editor about why we need more midwives and access to out-of-hospital birth! A key question to ask is why obstetricians find it necessary to perform ever increasing numbers of cesareans on healthy low-risk women having healthy babies when midwives attending out of hospital births maintain an only 3-4% cesarean rate* (with safe results and healthy mothers and babies)?
(*Please note, I do not mean that midwives are performing cesareans themselves, but that women under their care only need to be transferred for a cesarean 3-4% of the time.)
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