The Washington Post

Big NUMBER

- — Linda Searing

Births by Caesarean section increased to about 32 percent of all U.S. births last year, continuing what has been a small but steady increase for much of the past 25 years, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The center’s findings are based on data from birth certificat­es registered in all 50 states and D.C. through 2021. It found that the overall rise in C-section births was driven by an increase in the number of first-time (known as “primary”) Caesareans, across all ages and racial groups. Today, about 3 out of 5 women who have a Caesarean delivery have not given birth by Caesarean before. Yet the number of repeat C-sections has decreased somewhat over the past five years. In a Caesarean birth, the baby is delivered through incisions in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Sometimes, C-sections are planned; other times, the procedure is used when problems develop during delivery that endanger the health of the mother, the baby or both. Having a C-section does not preclude having a vaginal birth in the future, but most women who give birth for the first time via C-section — more than 4 in 5, according to the CDC report — will also have Caesarean delivery for subsequent births. Because of this, the agency predicts that “the overall cesarean delivery rate is likely to continue to increase.”

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