Why 'down under' is a cut above: a comparison of rates of and reasons for caesarean section in England and Australia

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014 Apr 26;14:149. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-149.

Abstract

Background: Most studies examining determinants of rising rates of caesarean section have examined patterns in documented reasons for caesarean over time in a single location. Further insights could be gleaned from cross-cultural research that examines practice patterns in locations with disparate rates of caesarean section at a single time point.

Methods: We compared both rates of and main reason for pre-labour and intrapartum caesarean between England and Queensland, Australia, using data from retrospective cross-sectional surveys of women who had recently given birth in England (n = 5,250) and Queensland (n = 3,467).

Results: Women in Queensland were more likely to have had a caesarean birth (36.2%) than women in England (25.1% of births; OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.28-1.61), after adjustment for obstetric characteristics. Between-country differences were found for rates of pre-labour caesarean (21.2% vs. 12.2%) but not for intrapartum caesarean or assisted vaginal birth. Compared to women in England, women in Queensland with a history of caesarean were more likely to have had a pre-labour caesarean and more likely to have had an intrapartum caesarean, due only to a previous caesarean. Among women with no previous caesarean, Queensland women were more likely than women in England to have had a caesarean due to suspected disproportion and failure to progress in labour.

Conclusions: The higher rates of caesarean birth in Queensland are largely attributable to higher rates of caesarean for women with a previous caesarean, and for the main reason of having had a previous caesarean. Variation between countries may be accounted for by the absence of a single, comprehensive clinical guideline for caesarean section in Queensland.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Pregnancy
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaginal Birth after Cesarean / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult