Cesarean Delivery and Gestational Age Among US Singleton Births
The increasing trend of delivering at earlier gestational ages has raised concerns of the impact on maternal and infant health.
The delicate balance of the risks and benefits associated with continuing a pregnancy versus delivering early remains challenging. Among singleton live births in the United States, the proportion of preterm births increased from 9.7% to 10.7% between 1996 and 2004.
The increase in singleton preterm births occurred primarily among those delivered by cesarean section, with the largest percentage increase in late preterm births. For all maternal racial/ethnic groups, singleton cesarean section rates increased for each gestational age group.
Singleton cesarean section rates for non-Hispanic black women increased at a faster pace among all preterm gestational age groups compared with non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women.
Further research is needed to understand the underlying reasons for the increase in cesarean section deliveries resulting in preterm birth.