Drop in Cesareans, Teen Births, Premature Babies Welcome News

The CDC recently released preliminary 2010 data on births in the US and there’s good news. For starters, preterm births declined for the fourth straight year. Although the rate is still high, it’s clear that progress is being made in preventing premature births.

The other good news is that the cesarean delivery rate also decreased. I’d like to believe that ACOG’s concerted efforts to educate physicians and the public that there are increased risks associated with cesarean birth, as well as our efforts to encourage vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), has something to do with this. We’ve also educated doctors and patients about not inducing labor or scheduling a cesarean before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a pressing medical need to do so. A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks and babies need these last few weeks to gain weight and fully develop lung function.

Births to teens fell again for the third straight year, hitting a record low. Fewer teens are having sex and more of them are using contraception when they do.

This new data is encouraging, but we must keep the momentum up on driving these rates down further and in the process, improving maternal and infant health outcomes.