Excessive Use of Cesarean Sections in the US Costing Health System @$5 Billion


Many maternal and infant health advocacy groups and practitioners have known for some time that the excessive use of cesarean sections in the US have placed mothers and infants at unnecessary risks. Now, a new comprehensive study by the research firm Truven Health Analytics has quantified monetarily the effects of cesarean sections on our US health system.

“The three advocacy groups that sponsored the study – Childbirth ConnectionCenter for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform, and Catalyst for Payment Reform – calculated that $5 billion a year could be saved if the current cesarean rate of 33 percent of births was reduced to 15 percent. The lower level would reflect cases of genuine medical necessity, according to the World Health Organization.”

Past studies have shown that women should wait 39 weeks for deliveries unless medically indicated to do so earlier for the health of the mother or infant. Even during the last two weeks of pregnancy, vital organs – such as the brain and lungs – are still developing; and, infants born before 39 weeks could require stays in the NICU or have future developmental and/or behavioral problems. The mothers also are at higher risks for longer lengths of stays in the hospital.

Many have known that all of these complications cost our US health system; but, the new study, The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States, shows how our US health system (both private and government) could save billions of dollars by reducing cesarean rates while at the same time improving birth outcomes. For the full report, please visit: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/reports/cost/

Written By: Heidi K. Curran, MBA