AIHW releases data on caesarean section in Australia

07 December 2017

Media Release


There has been enormous community interest in the rate of caesarean section in Australia, after a number of years of increases. Data recently released by the AIHW reveal that there has been no increase in the rate of caesarean birth in the most recent two years of data.

"Rates of caesarean birth are a hot topic in Australia," said President of RANZCOG, Professor Steve Robson. "We are committed to a balance between safety and community expectations."

Between 2014 and the most recent data analysis period, 2015, there was no statistically significant increase in the rate of caesarean section overall in Australia, with 525 fewer caesarean sections performed nationally in 2015.  

The data shows decreases in the rate of caesarean section for mothers 20 aged years and under, and mothers aged 25 to 29 years.

"Caesarean section decreases the risk of severe pelvic injuries to mothers, and greatly decreases the risk of vaginal prolapse and incontinence later in life," said Professor Robson.

"It seems that a healthy balance has now been achieved."

Factors known to increase the risk of caesarean birth are obesity and older age of mothers, and these continue to increase. In 2015, more than 4 per cent of all new mothers were aged 40 years or older. About 20 per cent of women giving birth in Australia were obese in 2015, compared to 16.8 per cent five years ago, an increase of 13 per cent over five years.

"With changes in the characteristics of women giving birth, such as increased age and rates of obesity, caesarean births are not increasing," said Professor Robson.

RANZCOG has introduced guidance on the management of labour, management of breech presentations and management of birth after a previous caesarean section. All of this guidance aims to promote safe birth.

"Obstetricians are the doctors who perform caesarean sections, and I think that by working in the best interests of women and their babies, the appropriate rate for Australia women has been found."



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