Delivery settings and caesarean section rates in China

Who Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 2007, 80 (7), pp. 755 - 762
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Objective: To quantify the influence of increasing use of health-care services on rising rates of caesarean section in China. Methods: We used data from a population-based survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund during September 2003 in 30 selected counties in three regions of China. The study sample (derived from birth history schedule) consisted of 3803 births to mothers aged less than 40 years between 1993 and 2002. Multiple logistic regression models were used to estimate the effect of health-care factors on the odds of a caesarean section, controlling for time and selected variables. Findings: Institutional births increased from 53.5% in 1993-1994 to 82.2% in 2001-2002, while the corresponding increase in rates of caesarean section was driven by the increase in births within institutions. The adjusted odds of a caesarean section were 4.6 times (95% confidence interval, CI: 3.4-11.8) higher for recent births. The adjusted odds were also significantly higher for mothers who had at least one antenatal ultrasound test. Rates of caesarean section in secondary-level facilities markedly increased over the last decade to the same levels as in major hospitals (P<0.001). Conclusion: The upsurge in rates of births by caesarean section in this population cannot be fully explained by increases in institutional births alone, but is likely to be driven by medical practice within secondary-level hospitals and women's demand for the procedure.
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