The steep and steady increase in Cesarean section childbirth finally may have peaked.
According to preliminary government data released Thursday, C-section deliveries were down slightly in 2010 -- from 32.8% of all deliveries compared to 32.9% in 2010. The rising C-section birth trend has been roundly criticized because many surgical deliveries are not performed for medical reasons, according to numerous studies. The nation's C-section rate in 1970 was only 5%.
Such deliveries cost more and increase the risk of problems in the mother and baby. But over the last two decades, doctors have often permitted a "patient-choice" C-section, which allows women to avoid labor. Doctors have also been reluctant to allow vaginal birth in a patient with a prior C-section because of fears of being sued due to a bad outcome.
However, the increase in the C-section rate has slowed over the last few years, and 2010 marks the first dip. Recently, doctors have been pressured to reconsider performing C-sections for non-medical reasons. Moreover, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists last year issued a position paper saying that most women can safely attempt a vaginal birth after a C-section.