C-Sections Increased While Birth Rates Dipped In 2008

Rates of cesarean delivery rose to nearly a third of all births in 2008, marking the 12th consecutive increase, according to the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2008. The report from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health appears in the January 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online on December 20). The summary also shows that record birth rates in the U.S. were reversed in 2008, and death rates for children ages 1 to 19 years decreased significantly.

The annual summary is a long-standing feature in Pediatrics. Highlights of this year’s report include:

– In 2008, there were 4,251,095 births in 2008, about 2 percent fewer than in 2007, which saw the highest number ever registered for the United States.

– Births to teens decreased 2 percent, in contrast to increased rates in 2006 and 2007.

– Birth rates decreased for women aged 20 to 39, and increased for women aged 40 to 49. The 1 percent decline in the 35 to 39 age group was the first since 1978.

– The total cesarean-delivery rate rose to 32.3 percent in 2008. This rate has climbed by 56 percent since 1996.

– The preterm birth rate was 12.3 percent, a 3 percent decline since 2007, and the low birth weight rate was unchanged.

– The infant mortality rate was 2 percent lower than in 2007. Unintentional injuries were the cause in 4.6 percent of infant deaths.

– For all children ages 1 to 19, unintentional injuries were the leading cause of death, accounting for 38.8 percent of deaths in 2008. Homicide was the second leading cause of death for this group.

– The average life expectancy at birth in 2008 was 77.8 years

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

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