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Nearly 1 in 3 Women Have Babies by C-Section

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: February 14, 2008

The proportion of American women having their babies delivered by C-section jumped to nearly 1 in 3 in 2005, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The proportion was 1 in 5 in 1995. AHRQ found that:

  • 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 AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on data in HCUP Facts and Figures, which highlights the latest data from AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project 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.

To speak with an AHRQ data expert or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of February 2008


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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