Primary and Repeat Cesarean Deliveries: A Population-based Study in the United States, 1979–2010

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Abstract

Background:

Despite the temporal increase in cesarean deliveries, the extent to which maternal age, period, and maternal birth cohorts may have contributed to these trends remains unknown.

Methods:

We performed an analysis of 123 million singleton deliveries in the United States (1979–2010). We estimated rate ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for primary and repeat cesarean deliveries. We examined changes in cesarean rates with weighted Poisson regression models across three time-scales: maternal age, year of delivery, and birth cohort (mother’s birth year).

Results:

The primary cesarean rate increased by 68% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 67%, 69%) between 1979 (11.0%) and 2010 (18.5%). Repeat cesarean deliveries increased by 178% (95% CI: 176, 179) from 5.2% in 1979 to 14.4% in 2010. Cesarean rates increased with advancing age. Compared with 1979, the RR for the period effect in primary and repeat cesarean deliveries increased up to 1990, fell to a nadir at 1993, and began to rise thereafter. A small birth cohort effect was evident, with women born before 1950 at increased risk of primary cesarean; no cohort effect was seen for repeat cesarean deliveries. Adjustment for maternal BMI had a small effect on these findings. Period effects in primary cesarean were explained by a combination of trends in obesity and chronic hypertension, as well as demographic shifts over time.

Conclusions:

Maternal age and period appear to have important contributions to the temporal increase in the cesarean rates, although the effect of parity on these associations remains undetermined.

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