Cesarean delivery rates in the United States. The 1990s

Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 1999 Jun;26(2):275-86. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8545(05)70074-7.


The increase in CS rates in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and the gradual decrease in the 1990s have been the focus of considerable attention because of the increased maternal morbidity and cost associated with the procedure without apparent impact on infant mortality. Focused efforts to reduce CS have resulted in a modest decrease the rate of primary CS and a marked increase in VBAC. Considerable variation in CS rates exists among regions in the United States and among states within those regions. The states with the higher CS rates are clustered in the South and Northeast regions of the United States, whereas rates tend to be lower in the West and Midwest. This variation cannot be explained by standard demographic risk factors and is likely related to local culture and mode of practice. Patient case mix should also be taken into account when comparing CS rates. Accounting for differences risk may help highlight differences in mode of practice and thus identify opportunities for improvement. Several reports from hospitals and communities of education and peer review programs have resulted in a significant reduction in their CS rates without increasing perinatal or maternal morbidity and mortality. A common theme in these reports of successful strategies to decrease the CS rate safely is the importance of physician motivation to make a change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Certificates
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States