A number of encouraging news items on the childbirth front to report:
1) The U.S. cesarean rate leveled off in 2010 (32.8% of all births) compared with 2009 (32.9%), the first time there hasn’t been a significant increase since the mid-1990s. It isn’t all good news, though, as the rate for Hispanic mothers–the fastest growing childbirth demographic in the U.S.–inched up from 31.6% to 31.8%.
Programs aimed at decreasing cesarean births, like the one I described in Michigan which will hopefully become a model of hospital care in the near future nationwide, are responsible in some part for the stalling out of the cesarean rise. Whether the trend continues and the cesarean rate actually starts to move downward in the near future remains to be seen.
2) The preterm birthrate dropped for the 4th consecutive year. Though still too high, this is obviously an encouraging trend.
The greatest decline was seen in babies born in the late preterm period, from 34-36 weeks gestation. This may be due in part to attempts to decrease the high rate of labor induction seen in the U.S. in recent years; a combination of wrong dates and early induction has “created” a lot of premature babies.
The improvement was almost across the board, state-wise. No state saw an increase in preterm births (although 4 states had no change from previously), New Mexico led the way with a drop in preterm births of 16% (!).
- The birth rate for 10-14 year olds decreased 20% to an all-time low.
- Rates for 15-17 year olds fell by 12%
- Rates for 18-19 year olds fell by 9%, and are now 38% below 1991.
A combination of factors, from fewer teens having sex to higher rates of contraceptive use, are responsible for what can only be seen as an encouraging trend. Long way to go, though, as I posted here a few days ago.