Monday, November 29, 2004

Birth in America: 2003 in Review

Doulicia has been wondering about the timing of launching a blog around the holidays. Not because the holidays are crazy and who has a chance to do anything. But because the holidays are when my family gets sick. So I spent last week on my back along with my toddler. Now my spouse is ill. But I’m back in the desk chair. So…

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics’ analysis of 2003 births [550 KB PDF] is getting its moment in the sun. What is getting most space is the record high 27.6% cesarean birth rate. It rose from 26.1% in 2002. Not surprisingly, the number of VBACs fell by 70,000 from 2002’s numbers. Page 4 of the report has a graph that shows the VBAC rate’s increase through the early 90s and sharp decline starting in 1997 (correlating to ACOG’s promotion of repeat elective cesareans).

Here’s a link to one of the many articles on the report. And, as a ray of hope, here’s the International Cesarean Awareness Network’s homepage. Doulas be sure to check out Pauline Scott’s book “Sit Up and Take Notice! Positioning Yourself for a Better Birth.”

The numbers also reveal a slight and as-yet-unexplained increase in low birthweight (less than 5 lb. 8 oz) and preterm babies. This despite the fact that teen birth and maternal smoking rates decreased, and the percentage of women seeking prenatal care in their first trimester rose. I wonder if there has been any look into iatrogenic prematurity? The analysis doesn’t include labor induction numbers. If they, too, have risen, then induction and cesarean deliveries could be bringing out babies whose gestational age has been misdiagnosed and who are really not yet ready to be born.


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7:33 PM  
Anonymous Renee said...

I am an aspiring doula and just found your blog, so I'm now catching up. That rate seems so low now, anything under 30% seems like such a step forward. Sigh.

10:56 PM  

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