After 12 years of consecutive increases, the rate of cesarean deliveries in the United States appears to have leveled off.
A National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief shows that since 2009, when cesarean deliveries reached a high of 32.9% of all births, the rate has not increased. In 2009 the rate reflected a 60% increase from the recent low of 20.7% in 1996.
Between 1996 and 2009, cesarean delivery rates increased by at least 40% in all gestational age groups. However, increases of more than 60% occurred among births at 37 to 38 weeks, from 20.6% to 33.6%, and full-term births, from 18.2% to 29.3%. The largest changes from 2009 to 2011 occurred in cesarean delivery rates among births at 38 weeks, which decreased by more than 5%, from 33.8% to 32%, and among births at 39 weeks, which increased by 4%, from 32.4% to 33.7%.