Recently-released federal data shows the national Cesarean rate for 2007 to be the highest ever reported, at 31.8 percent of all births, which is an increase of 54 percent from 1996.
The Courier-Post published an in-depth article discussing the trend in New Jersey and spoke with Richard L. Fischer, M.D., Head of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, about some of the possible reasons for the substantial increase. Dr. Fisher, who has been with Cooper for over twenty years, has seen the rate of C-sections increase nearly ten-percent over that time. Even with the increase, Cooper still has one of the lowest rates in the state.
“There are many issues that are driving the C-section rate increase in New Jersey,” Fischer said.
When Fischer first came to Cooper 21 years ago, the hospital’s C-section rate was 18 percent. Last year, that number climbed to 27.9 percent. But Cooper nonetheless maintains one of the lowest C-section rates in the state.
Fischer said the same has happened to the rate of labor inductions, which is now 22 percent of the 2,200 deliveries performed at Cooper every year. An induced labor doubles the chances C-section will be needed, Fischer said.
“The induction rate has been rising and it mirrors the rate of C-sections,” Fischer said.
Maternal obesity can lead to more birth complications and larger infants, Fischer said. Doctors also rely on a fetal heart rate monitor to determine if the fetus is in distress.
“We’re relying on a very imprecise tool, but it leads to an increase in C-section rates,” Fischer said. He added that before the monitor was widely used, the C-section rate was only 5 percent. But it is currently the only viable tool available.
Read the complete article on the Courier-Post‘s website at www.courierpostonline.com.