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Repeat C-Sections Climb by More Than 40 Percent in 10 Years

AHRQ News and Numbers, April 15, 2009

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

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 the latest News and Numbers 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 having active genital herpes, the baby's head being 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 deliveries without complications, 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.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Hospitalizations Related to Childbirth, 2006. 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 all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of April 2009
Internet Citation: Repeat C-Sections Climb by More Than 40 Percent in 10 Years: AHRQ News and Numbers, April 15, 2009. April 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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