The Future of Cesarean Delivery Rates in the United States

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Abstract

The US cesarean delivery rate remains 30%–32%. Increases in maternal age, obesity, and diabetes put upward pressure on this rate. Alternatives to cesarean delivery, vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), and operative vaginal delivery, are underutilized and there are substantial challenges to their resurgence. Practice guidelines offer promise, but demonstrate only minor reductions in cesarean delivery. We estimate that the overall rate in the US will remain 27%–30% for the immediate future. As more states move to recognize the independent practice of midwifery and more payers seek lower cost options for childbirth, we anticipate the overall rate will drop to 20% or 25%, but not for another 15 years or more.

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