Cesarean births hit an all-time high

May 1, 2010

Nearly one-third (32%) of all births were cesarean deliveries in 2007, which is the highest rate ever reported in the United States.

Nearly one-third (32%) of all births were cesarean deliveries in 2007, which is the highest rate ever reported in the United States. Cesarean deliveries have been increasing steadily after a decline in the early 1990s, rising by 53% in the decade since 1996. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), cesarean deliveries are now the most common surgical procedure performed in American hospitals.

From 1996 through 2007, the most recent year included in the study, cesarean delivery rates rose for women of all ages and all racial and ethnic groups, increasing from 1996 to 2000, then accelerating from 2000 to 2007. Women younger than 25 years old had the greatest increases in the period between 2000 and 2007. Non-Hispanic black women had slightly higher cesarean-delivery rates than non-Hispanic white women in 2007. American Indian and Alaskan Native women had the lowest rates.

Cesarean delivery rates also increased for births at all gestational ages from 1996 to 2006 (2007 data were not yet available). The rate for early preterm infants increased by 36% and rose by nearly 50% for infants born late preterm and term and over. Through 2007, cesarean rates were higher for both early and late preterm infants than for term babies.

Menacker F, Hamilton BE. Recent trends in cesarean delivery in the United States. NCHS Data Brief. March 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/databriefs/db35.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2010.