Objective: Our objective was to describe trends in caesarean section (CS) rates, characteristics of women delivering by CS, reasons for CS and impact of CS on perinatal mortality, in a rural Indian population.
Design: Secondary data analysis using a prospective population-based registry.
Setting: Four districts in Eastern Maharashtra, India, 2010 to 2013.
Participants: 39 026 pregnant women undergoing labour and delivery.
Main outcomes: CS, single most likely reason, perinatal mortality.
Results: Overall, 20% of the women delivered by CS. Rates increased from 17.4% in 2010 to 22.7% in 2013 (p<0.001) with an absolute risk increase from 1% to 5% during this time-period. Women aged 25+ years old, being nulliparous, having at least a secondary school education, a body mass index 25+ and a multiple gestation pregnancy were more likely to deliver by CS. Perinatal mortality was higher among babies delivered vaginally than those delivered by CS (4.5% vs 2.7%, p<0.001). Prolonged and obstructed labour as the reported reason for CS increased over time for both nulliparous and multiparous women (p<0.001), and 6% to 10% women had no clear reason for CS. Perinatal mortality was higher among babies born vaginally than those delivered by CS (adjusted OR: 0.65, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.76, p<0.001).
Conclusion: Rates of CS increased over time in rural Maharashtra, exceeding WHO recommendations. Characteristics associated with CS and outcomes of CS were similar to previous reports. Further studies are needed to ensure accuracy of reported reasons for CS, why obstructed and prolonged labour leading to CS is increasing in this population and what leads to CS without a clear indication. Such information may be helpful for implementing the Indian Government mandate that no CS be performed without strict medical indications, while ensuring that the overall CS rates are appropriate.
Trial registration number: NCT01073475.
Keywords: neonatology; obstetrics; perinatology.
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