Trends in mode of delivery during 1984-2003: can they be explained by pregnancy and delivery complications?

18 May 2007

A research project looking at all births in Western Australia between 1984 and 2003 has found a dramatic increase in Caesarean sections. The study found that the rise could not be explained by increases in clinical reasons for caesareans such as complications in pregnancy or labour/delivery and was more likely due to societal factors. It excluded multiple and breech births. Report author, Colleen O'Leary, from Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, said that even after adjusting for pregnancy and delivery complications and sociodemographic factors, the increases were significant. Women in 1999-03 were twice as likely to have a caesarean section, than women in 1984-88. "The figures show that what we call elective or planned caesareans have risen from 6 per cent to 13 per cent over the 20 year period and during the same time, there has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of emergency caesareans," Ms O'Leary said. "From the analysis it is clear that both maternal age and affluence are factors in the increasing rates of caesareans."

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