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High C-Section Rates Plague Southern States

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Kaiser Health News writes of the high C-Section rates that plague the southern states with Mississippi having the highest cesarean section rate in the U.S. — nearly 4 in 10 women who give birth there deliver their babies via C-section.

Overall, 31.8% of all births in the U.S. were C-sections in 2020, just a slight tick up from 31.7% the year before, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that’s close to the peak in 2009, when it was 32.9%. And the rates are far higher in many states, especially across the South.

These high C-section rates have persisted — and in some states, such as Alabama and Kentucky, even grown slightly — despite continual calls to reduce them. Some states, such as California and New Jersey, have reduced their rates through a variety of strategies, including sharing C-section data with doctors and hospitals. But change has proved difficult elsewhere, especially in the South and in Texas, where women are generally less healthy heading into their pregnancies and maternal and infant health problems are among the highest in the U.S.

Although C-sections are sometimes necessary, public health leaders say these surgeries have been overused in many places. Black women, particularly, are more likely to give birth by C-section than any other racial group in the country. Often, hospitals and even regions have wide, unexplained variations in rates.

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