Fewer teens are giving birth; C-section rate at an all time high
December 21st, 2010
11:52 AM ET

Fewer teens are giving birth; C-section rate at an all time high

Fewer teen girls had babies in 2009 than in previous years, according to statistics released today by the Centers for Disease Control. The report also finds that fewer American women overall are giving birth.

The report, compiled by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, is based on birth records collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Among the highlights:

- The 2009 birth rate for teenagers declined 6%  from 2008. In 2009, there were 39.1 births per 1,000 teenagers ages 15-19 in 2009. This is the second straight year of decline.

- Fewer American women are giving birth. The overall fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females in 2008 to 66.7 in 2009.

- The total number of births to unmarried mothers went down almost 4% in 2009 to 50.6 per 1,000 aged 15-44. It's the first decline since 1997. However, the percentage of all births to unmarried mothers was up slightly from 40.6% in 2008 to 41%.

- C-sections are now at an all time high. Nearly one in three babies were delivered via cesarean in 2009. Since 1996, the C-section rate has increased nearly 60%.

soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. epespinoza43

    I agree with Csectionsfordollars. It is s simple matter of women trusting their OBGYNs and the OBGYNs in turn take advantage of it. Hippocratic oath? What's that?

    It's" all about the Benjamins!"

    December 22, 2010 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. SweetAsPie

    Emergency C sections are not the same as ELECTIVE c/sections! Many women opt out of pushing. It is called, too posh to push, look it up! If this was not case and your baby was delivered because of an emergency c-section than you did the right thing.

    December 22, 2010 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. barbs2

    I have 8 children, five natural births, two with epidurals, one c-section. My natural births were so, so much better, with much better recovery. I cannot imagine why anyone would choose a c-section if it were not necessary. As a labor and delivery nurse, I know they are good the rare times they are needed, but those times are indeed rare. I believe in my hospital they are often done to prevent lawsuits. Some of our drs really try to help women deliver naturally, some really do seem to think c-sections need to be done on everyone. But for myself, 20 years after my c-section, I am experiencing problems related to that surgery.

    December 22, 2010 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • barbs2

      Want to add I delivered 9 lb babies naturally. My c-section was an 8 pounder.

      December 22, 2010 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
  4. festivus

    Wow! I thought there was a shortage of doctors in the states. From all these comments, it seems there are plenty of doctors out there...

    December 22, 2010 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. steve

    It's the easy way out barring complications. The days are gone like my wife. Natural birth with no epidural or para cervical. It was hell on her but she wanted natural child births. They don't make women like they used too!

    December 22, 2010 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Gypsy

    1st baby was induced. Mostly my fault because hubby was leaving the country and I wanted him there for the birth. No dilation or progression after 12hrs, so doc rolls me into surgery. I was down 4wks with infections before I could enjoy being a mother.
    2nd baby was going to be different. I INSISTED on VBAC and doc reluctantly went along with it. Induced me for no medical reason, other than I looked like I was going to give birth to a 20 pounder. 18hrs labor and 2hrs pushing resulted in my baby getting "stuck" at the shoulders on his way out. Yea......his head out and STUCK.

    Doc sliced me open and almost broke my son's collarbone to get him out. He had to be resuscitated, and there were some developmental delays down the road (from oxygen deprivation). Doc informed me any more babies would be c-section!.... no negotiating!

    Bottom line, I was up in 3days vacuuming the house and feeling great...but at what price? I wanted a natural birth, but my body disagreed. After some reading, I came to the conclusion that women laying on their backs with PITOCEN drips isn’t how nature intended it. Moving around, walking, squatting, stretching, etc. help the process along. Being tied to the bed with an IV slows the birthing process down.

    I never had 3rd child, so I never had the opportunity to try doing it with a midwife, but I suspect women not educating themselves is as much of the problem as the doc's rushing in surgery. If I had a “do-over”, I'd have never induced the 1st one out of convenience and I would have never bullied my doc into a VBAC on the 2nd, risking my son's life. He's 12 today and doing ok, but always a bit behind his peers now. Was it worth me healing faster or being able to say I did it like a real woman? .....ummm, no

    December 22, 2010 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gypsy

      oh yea, and the 2nd one that got stuck was only 8lb 3oz.... so go figure.

      December 22, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse |
  7. Mathman025

    Let's try this: Fewer teens are having kids. Can that be an article one day?

    December 22, 2010 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Carl

    The reason for the high rate of C-section it is because most doctors now try to go the safe route (C-section) to prevent law suits. The first option most doctors throw at a soon to be mother is C-section, than induced labor, follow by natural labor.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. EVCW

    What a shame! Having had a regular birth, followed by a c-section and then a natural (VBAC) afterwards, I would not recommend the c-section as an elective option AT ALL! The natural birthing process is better for the baby, and provides such a sense of empowerment, that it's a shame not to experience it. Fear is not a reason to opt for the C-section!

    December 22, 2010 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. wangl

    From natural selections point of view, C-section is bad because it allows baby who would otherwise die to live, thus passing on the gene that contributes to birth difficulty. But this can hardly be considered a bad thing. I really don't think c-section is a epidemic. There is no point in letting women go through labor if it's considered risky.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jaystar

    There was a time when woman gave birth in caves without a doctor. They were designed for it. Sometimes modern medicine needs to butt out of the natural life cycle and let mother nature take it's course.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Marcus Of Memphis

    C-section are performed more often now days because they stops lawsuits... alot can go wrong with a natural childbirth and it is for the most part out of the control of the MD. And if a child get injured of brian damaged the new parents are going to sue (thats a given) with a C-section the MD has more control of the process and the procedure leaves less to chance. And lets not forget... C-sections leave the Mother with a scar but, otherwise... Intact.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tracey

    Look, let's be honest here. If one in three women could not give birth without intervention the human race would be in trouble. There is NO doubt that a great number of cesareans are for the convenience of the doctor and/or the mother. And there is NO doubt that some are life-saving procedures that we can be grateful for. The problem lies in the fact that many mothers don't want them, doctors just frankly don't care because they don't see what the big deal is and many women are forced into them against their will. Also, a significant portion of the complications that lead to the surgery are caused by the doctors in the first place because they refuse to leave well enough alone and insist on trying to speed things along.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mike


    If the doctor doesn't perform a C-section and a medical doctor (usually publishes in peer reviewed journals) can link that to a lack of a C-section, that doctor will be liable for damages. OBGyns make $300K plus to make these hard choices.

    Now all these posters pointing to John Edwards (who was a good trial lawyer) must be ignorant of the fact that every med mal lawsuit requires an expert witness for the case to go through. Edwards did nothing but question that expert and put it all together. The expert witness is what makes or breaks a case.

    If you have a problem with that, call up some medical schools and have a word with those who testify.

    December 22, 2010 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Lula

    I had a c-section. It wasn't what I had planned but at the time it was the best for the baby or so I was told. Honestly the biggest complaint I had was the awful way the staff treated me in the hospital. I could not wait to get out of there. I tried to check myself out after the second day. I understand now why more women want to have an at home birth after their first child.

    December 22, 2010 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. SueUS

    It doesn't matter if the c section rate is up or down. It should be the woman's choice. Period. Personally, I was forced to be induced for the birth of my only son. I went thru 28 hours of labor brought on by pitocin, 3 epidurals, and all sorts of pain and suffering to end up with the c section I begged my doctor to do from the beginning. See, some of us really do have small pelvises (I'm one of these women) and birthing a 10+ lb baby is impossible for someone like me. I could have had a much quicker recovery had the Dr just listened to me and skipped the whole induction and labor process. Yeah, my abs aren't what they used to be, but who cares? I'm not Heidi Klum.

    December 22, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. laura

    One of the big reasons VBAC's are not popular is because of the Dr.s and hospital worring about being sued and malpractice insurance is higher for places that do VBAC's.
    women are leaving too many decisions up to the Dr. Not very many will be willing to tell a paient I preform an unnecessary cesearan section on you. You can find out how to prevent one, one question to ask your Dr/midwife what is your cesarean rate?
    Keep in mind the World health organization has said a safe cesarean rate is 10% to 15% anything over that does not show improvements to either mother or child. Death rates during child have also gone up due to cesareans, there are a lot of risks involved the more you have the greater the risk.
    There are so many myths to childbirth and it is imporatant to know what they are, do not rely only on a hospital birthing class and choose your books carefully.

    December 22, 2010 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. c section X2

    I had two c sections. The first was because my daughter was frank breach ( butt first) and her butt was stuck in my pelvis so my OB said she would have to be delivered via C section. They could not turn her because I had toxemia and my B/P was no high. I wanted a vbac 2nd time around but nature said different. My second was delivered 4 weeks early via c section because, I once again had toxemia and my B/P was high aslo I had been contraction for three weeks every ten minutes or so before he was born all the time stretching out my c section scar. When my OB delivered my son he said it was lucky he did it that day because all of that contracting had streted my c section scar to paper thin. If I had tried for a vbac my uterus would have most likley ruptured possible killing both of us. I have two healthy happy kids and will be doing a c section next time out of medical neccecity and because my recovery from both c sections was very easy took perocet for about 4 days after and was totally fine with in about 1.5 weeks. I was walking just hours after each child was born. My son had to be in the nursery because he was early and could not keep up his temp or sugar and I stood by has bed pretty much for 2 days strait feeding him every 2 hours I did not want to be away from him the nurses were amazed and said I did not act like a typical c section mom. My experience was great and Ill do it again.

    December 22, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. khouria jen

    i'm a c-section mom who had an emergency one (hellp syndrome w/ 30% abruption) and i have had older women cluck about how i should have been given the choice of labor. my response: "the fact that i wasn't is why i'm alive here talking to you." (i was only 29 weeks along and it saved my life and the life of my son.) there's no way in hades that any doctor would let me have a vbac (high risk for complications with any additional pregnancies) and i'm fine with that - i'd rather the baby and i be healthy and deal with a few days of pain than go through labor, rupture, and have my life be even more at risk.

    i do know someone who had a vbac and ruptured (serious doctor error - they left the hospital for lunch while said woman was in labor and she ruptured) and they did win a lawsuit against the doctor and hospital because the baby was brain-damaged and will be in a wheelchair for the rest of their life. as a result, that hospital will not do vbac's and even the hospital where i was transferred for my c-section only does them on a case-by-case basis with their entire maternity staff on the floor at the time in case of a problem.

    the bottom line is that it needs to be a decision made by both the woman and their doctor. i know that some doctors will try to bully women into having them for convenience but i can't think of any reputable ob/gyn who would try to sell a woman on one electively. most of the ones i know would prefer NOT to do them unless there is a medical need because it's an added risk and added recovery time. if a woman is being bullied by their doctor into having one, get a second opinion or switch doctors.

    December 22, 2010 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jenny Hatch

    FREEBIRTH: A MESSAGE TO OBSTETRICIANS FROM JENNY HATCH, “PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF!!” http://jennyhatch.com/2009/11/20/freebirth-a-message-to-obstetricians-from-jenny-hatch-physician-heal-thyself-2/

    July 21, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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