May 23, 2024 - News

Florida is seeing more babies delivered by C-section

Line chart showing the annual share of babies delivered by cesarean section in Florida and the U.S. from 2016 to 2023. In 2016, 31.9% of U.S. babies were delivered by c-section, compared to 32.4% in 2023. In Florida, the share changed from 37.4% to 36.2% in the time period.
Data: CDC. Chart: Axios Visuals

The rate of cesarean births in Florida is higher than the national average.

Why it matters: Florida's 2023 C-section rate was 36.2%, according to provisional CDC data. That's well above the 10-15% rate that the WHO considers "ideal."

Yes, but: An increase in C-sections doesn't necessarily mean the rate of unnecessary procedures has risen. There are other factors at play.

Patients are sicker overall.

Repeat C-sections account for many procedures, even though the old "too posh to push" idea is not widely held.

  • "If you have already had a C-section, you will almost always be offered — and indeed the default is likely to be — a second," says Emily Oster, economist and author of "The Unexpected."

Between the lines: Hospital politics might also come into play.

  • For example, there are cases when doctors are more inclined to perform C-sections, because that option may be less likely to lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit, van Dis says.
  • And health care system reimbursements for C-sections are generally higher than for vaginal births. "Financial incentives almost always play some role," Oster says.

What we're watching: Expanding access to doula care could lower the rates of C-sections.

  • A number of studies already suggest that the presence of doulas lower the use of C-sections, Oster says.
  • Doulas are there for psychological support during the often-overwhelming labor process, and to help with birth positions that could avoid the need for a C-section, van Dis says.

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