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Nearly one in three women have babies by C-section

The proportion of American women having their babies delivered by cesarean section (C-section) jumped to nearly one in three in 2005. In 1995, the proportion had been one in five. In addition:

  • About 1.3 million women gave birth via cesarean section in 2005, a 62 percent increase over the 800,000 C-sections performed in 1995.
  • The increase occurred as vaginal deliveries among women who gave birth in hospitals declined from about 3 million in 1995 to 2.9 million in 2005, a decrease of 3 percent.
  • The sharpest decline in vaginal deliveries in hospitals was among women who had previously given birth via C-section. Vaginal deliveries among those women dropped 60 percent, from 157,200 in 1995 to 62,300 in 2005.
  • Hospitals charged $21.3 billion for patient stays involving vaginal delivery in 2005 and $17.4 billion for those involving birth by C-section.

C-section is a surgical method usually performed when a vaginal delivery would put the baby's or mother's life or health at risk. Increasingly, however, the procedure is performed during births that would otherwise have been normal.

This summary is based on data in HCUP Facts and Figures, which highlights the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) on a range of hospital inpatient care subjects, including leading reasons for hospitalization, such as childbirth, diabetes, and heart conditions; weight-loss, cardiac and other surgical procedures; and hospital costs.

For more information, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/data/hcup/.

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