Objectives: This report presents trends in cesarean rates for first births and repeat cesarean rates for low-risk women, in relation to the Healthy People 2010 (HP 2010) objectives. Data for the U.S. showing trends by maternal age and race and Hispanic origin are presented.
Methods: Cesarean rates were computed based on the information reported on birth certificates.
Results: With a decrease between 1990 and 1996 and an increase between 1996 and 2003, the trend in the cesarean rate for low-risk women having a first birth paralleled trends in the primary (regardless of parity) and total cesarean rates. During 1996-2003 the cesarean rate for low-risk women having a first birth has consistently been at least 13 percent lower than the rate for all women having a first birth. For 2003 the cesarean rate for all primiparous women was 27.1 percent; for low-risk women the rate was 23.6 percent. The trend in the repeat cesarean rate for low-risk women was similar to the trend in the repeat rate for all women, i.e., a decrease from 1990 to 1996 and an increase from 1996 to 2003. The repeat cesarean rate for low-risk women has consistently been slightly lower than the rate for all women. For 2003 the repeat rate for all women was 89.4; the rate for low-risk women was 88.7. These trends were found for low-risk women of all ages and racial or ethnic groups. Therefore, low-risk women giving birth for the first time who have a cesarean delivery are more likely to have a subsequent cesarean delivery.