Recent trends in caesarean delivery rates and indications for caesarean delivery in Canada

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2004 Aug;26(8):735-42. doi: 10.1016/s1701-2163(16)30645-4.


Objective: To examine recent trends in Caesarean delivery rates as well as the indications for Caesarean delivery in Canada, excluding the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec.

Methods: All deliveries (N = 1 807 388) recorded in the Canadian Institute for Health Information's Discharge Abstract Database for the years 1994/95 to 2000/01 were included in the study (all hospital deliveries in Canada except for those occurring in Manitoba and Quebec). Temporal trends and inter-provincial/territorial variations in Caesarean delivery rates were quantified, and the primary indications for Caesarean delivery during the study period were compared.

Results: The overall Caesarean delivery rate increased from 18.0% in 1994/95 to 22.1% in 2000/01. The primary Caesarean delivery rate increased from 12.7% to 16.3%, while the rate of vaginal birth after Caesarean decreased from 33.3% to 28.5% over the same period. Most of the increase in primary Caesarean deliveries was due to increases in Caesarean deliveries for dystocia, which increased from 6.9% in 1994/95 to 9.2% in 2000/01. The largest increase in repeat Caesarean deliveries was due to elective repeat Caesarean sections, which increased from 37.7% to 40.3%. Approximately 15% of the increase in overall Caesarean delivery rates was explained by increases in maternal age. The rate of vaginal deliveries following forceps rotation declined from 1.9% in 1994/95 to 1.3% in 2000/01.

Conclusion: Most of the recent increase in Caesarean delivery rates in Canada was attributed to increases in primary Caesarean delivery for dystocia and elective repeat Caesarean deliveries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Cesarean Section / trends*
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat / statistics & numerical data
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat / trends
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data
  • Delivery, Obstetric / trends*
  • Dystocia / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy