Inequities in the use of cesarean section deliveries in the world

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Apr;206(4):331.e1-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.02.026. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the unequal distribution in the performance of cesarean section delivery (CS) in the world and the resource-use implications of such inequity.

Study design: We obtained data on the number of CSs performed in 137 countries in 2008. The consensus is that countries should achieve a 10% rate of CS; therefore, for countries that are below that rate, we calculated the cost to achieve a 10% rate. For countries with a CS rate of >15%, we calculated the savings that could be made by the achievement of a 15% rate.

Results: Fifty-four countries had CS rates of <10%, whereas 69 countries showed rates of >15%. The cost of the global saving by a reduction of CS rates to 15% was estimated to be $2.32 billion (US dollars); the cost to attain a 10% CS rate was $432 million (US dollars).

Conclusion: CSs that are potentially medically unjustified appear to command a disproportionate share of global economic resources.

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section / economics
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / economics
  • Pregnancy Complications / surgery