C-Sections, Induced Births Decline in US, Study Finds

Study shows reversal in decades-long trend.

ByABC News
July 26, 2016, 1:05 PM
New study finds fewer induced births in the US.
New study finds fewer induced births in the US.
Getty Images

— -- The rate of cesarean sections and induced births in the U.S. has declined, reversing a decades-long trend of increased rates of obstetric interventions, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from multiple institutions, including the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, examined data from 25 million birth certificates detailing deliveries. They found measurable drops in the amount of obstetric interventions taking place in babies delivered both late pre-term (34-36 weeks of pregnancy) and early term (37-38 weeks of pregnancy). Researchers found there was a decrease in obstetric interventions from 33 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014 for early-term infants and a slight decrease -- from 6.8 percent to 5.7 percent -- for infants born in late pre-term births during this time period.

Unnecessary obstetric interventions have been an issue of growing concern because they can lead to additional complications. In 2011, one in every three pregnant women delivered their babies via c-section in the U.S., leading to medical officials becoming concerned that invasive procedures were being overused.

The lower rate of interventions is likely because doctors are now recommended by American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) to delay obstetric interventions to 39 weeks of pregnancy or later. ACOG encourages doctors to do non-medical interventions by providing more support during labor like having a doula.

Dr. David Hackney, a maternal fetal medicine doctor at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said more research should be done to answer the question of whether there “are fewer patients going into labor [needing obstetric interventions] or if we are intentionally delivering fewer babies this way.”

Hackney, who was not involved with the study, pointed out medical research has focused on helping mothers later in their pregnancy, from 34-38 weeks, to improve medical and birth outcomes, and that that could have resulted in decreased need for medical interventions.

“It always feels good to have a long-standing public health and educational campaign [of decreasing medical interventions]," he said. You "can actually see the change in ... public health findings."

Dr. Amber Robins, is a family medicine resident at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry who is currently working at ABC News in the Medical Unit. She is also a current MBA student at Louisiana State University-Shreveport.