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Repeat C-sections rose dramatically in the past decade

Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346

The percentage of pregnant women undergoing a repeat Cesarean section (C-section) delivery jumped from 65 percent to 90 percent between 1997 and 2006, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). C-sections are performed for medical reasons and they can be elective. Medical reasons include a previous C-section, malposition of the baby in the uterus; the mother has active genital herpes; the baby's head is too large to pass through the mother's pelvis; or problems with the umbilical cord. AHRQ also found that:

  • Nearly one-third of the 4.3 million childbirths in 2006 were delivered via C-section, compared with one-fifth in 1997.
  • C-sections are more costly than vaginal deliveries, $4,500 versus $2,600 in uncomplicated deliveries, and $6,100 versus $3,500 in deliveries with complications.
  • Therefore, although C-sections account for 31 percent of all deliveries, they account for 45 percent of all costs associated with delivery.
  • C-sections account for 34 percent of all deliveries by women who are privately insured, but only 25 percent of deliveries by women who are uninsured.

For more information, go to Hospitalizations Related to Childbirth, 2006, HCUP Statistical Brief #71 (http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb71.jsp). The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of discharges in the United States and include all insured and uninsured patients.

Current as of June 2009
Internet Citation: Repeat C-sections rose dramatically in the past decade: Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346. June 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/jun09/0609RA47.html