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C-Sections Cubby

More Than One-Quarter of NYC Births in 2003 Were C-Sections, Public Advocate Report Says; Findings Reflect National Trend

July 14, 2005

In 2003, 26.4% of deliveries in New York City were caesarean sections, with the percentage of c-section deliveries varying greatly among city hospitals, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the Public Advocate for the City of New York, the New York Times reports. Public advocate Betsy Gotbaum and colleagues surveyed 44 hospitals in New York City to determine their c-section delivery rate in 2003. Nine of the hospitals reported that more than 30% of deliveries were by c-section, with New York-Presbyterian hospital reporting a c-section rate of 37.3%, the highest rate among hospitals surveyed. Statewide, 28.4% of women who gave birth in 2003 delivered by c-section, and 27% of births were c-sections nationwide in 2003, according to data compiled by HHS. More than one million infants were delivered by c-section in the U.S. in 2003, five times the number delivered by c-section in 1980. Under the state's 1989 Maternity Information Act, hospitals are required to provide data on the number of c-section deliveries they perform to any patients who request the data. Although the state's c-section rates dropped in the years following enactment of the law, they have since risen. Gotbaum said that the trend toward more c-sections is not good, adding that performing unnecessary c-sections represents a "tremendous risk." She cited World Health Organization and CDC recommendations that c-section deliveries be conducted only when necessary to protect the infant or woman and make up no more than 15% of all births. Gotbaum also blamed the New York State Department of Health for not monitoring the issue more closely. However, William Van Slyke, the city's deputy health commissioner, said that the health department compiles data on c-sections as quickly as possible and reports the findings to the hospitals, which then are responsible for providing information on c-sections to patients. However, there is no penalty for hospitals that fail to do so (Santora, New York Times, 7/13).


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