Cesarean deliveries on the rise

State hospitals see 50 percent rise in surgical deliveries

Cesarean deliveries in California have risen by 50 percent over the last decade without a demonstrable improvement in outcomes over vaginal deliveries.

Despite being associated with higher potential of surgical complications, infections, risks in future pregnancies and higher costs, cesarean deliveries now account for 32 percent of California’s annual births, according to the California Healthcare Foundation. The study, conducted by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), found that the average cost of a cesarean delivery is $24,700, nearly double the $14,500 average for a vaginal delivery.

The Pacific Business Group on Health, a co-author of the study, estimates that cesarean sections amounted to an additional $240 million in public (taxpayer) and private costs in 2011.

“Over the last 15 years, cesarean deliveries have become so common that in some hospitals and communities they are considered ‘normal births’ despite the increased risks,” said Dr. Elliott Main, medical director of the CMQCC.