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2004 C-Sections the Highest Ever Recorded in US

Both the number of premature births and the number of Caesarean deliveries are the highest they have ever been in the US, according to government figures revealed this past Tuesday.

The rate of C-sections rose to 29.1 percent of all US births in 2004, an increase of over 40 percent more since 1996.  Over 500,000 babies were born prematurely last year as well, the highest ever recorded.  At the same time maternal and infant health rates are not improving, prompting many to proclaim a state of emergency.

The results of the data are staggering to many in the government.  Doctors and medical officials point to the concern among medical practitioners over the possibilities of medical malpractice lawsuits causing the increased C-section deliveries.  They report that although most of the C-sections were unnecessary, they were done to prevent any problems stemming from natural birth methods.

C-sections are also widely performed because pregnant women typically see them as less problematic and less painful than natural births. 

Low birth weights and premature births have also been on the rise.  Since 1990 low birth weights have risen by 16 percent.  Reasons for the premature and low birth weight deliveries are not that clear but many doctors suggest that the recent increase of obesity in the US may have a part to play.  Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine suggests that the timely delivery of prenatal care was a result of racial discrimination.  Many hospitals that have the increased rate are in areas with larger ethnic minority populations.

Dr. Katz also points to the increase of C-section surgery, which he finds troubling, because there hasn’t been a parallel increase in women’s and infant’s health that corresponds to the number of C-sections.

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