Indications contributing to the decreasing cesarean delivery rate at an academic tertiary center

Sarah N. Cross, Jessica T. Greenberg, Christian M. Pettker, Cheryl A. Raab, Jessica L. Illuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Evaluating trends in indications may identify targets to safely reduce the primary cesarean delivery rate. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine physician-documented indications for cesarean delivery to identify specific factors that contribute to a decreasing cesarean delivery rate. STUDY DESIGN: We analyzed rates of primary and repeat cesarean deliveries, which included indications for the procedure, among 22,265 live births at an academic tertiary center from 2009-2013. Time trends for each indication were modeled to estimate the absolute and cumulative annualized relative risk of cesarean delivery by indication over time and the relative contribution of each indication to the overall decrease in primary cesarean delivery rate. RESULTS: From 2009-2013, the cesarean delivery rate decreased from 36.5-31.4%; 74% of the decrease was attributable to a decrease in primary cesarean deliveries, which decreased from 21.7-17.6%. Among documented indications for primary cesarean delivery, labor arrest, abnormal or indeterminate fetal heart rate, and preeclampsia decreased significantly over time (P<.001), whereas malpresentation, multiple gestation, maternal-fetal, macrosomia, and other obstetric and elective/maternal requests did not change (P>.05). Labor arrest was responsible for the largest proportion of the decrease in the primary cesarean delivery rate (44%), followed by abnormal or indeterminate fetal heart rate (23%) and preeclampsia (13%). CONCLUSION: Primary cesarean births accounted for 74% of the decreasing cesarean delivery rate. Reductions in the diagnosis of labor arrest and abnormal fetal heart rate led to a decreased cesarean delivery rate at a major academic institution. Contemporaneous changes in definitions of labor arrest and approaches to fetal monitoring that were adopted at our institution may have considerable effect on the cesarean delivery rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics & gynecology MFM
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • cesarean delivery
  • indication
  • labor arrest
  • preeclampsia


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