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C-sections at record high; teen births at record low

From Times Wire Services

The Caesarean delivery rate for U.S. women hit a record high in 2005 while teen births fell to a new low, government health officials said Tuesday.

Close to a third of all babies born in the United States -- 30.2% in 2005, up from 29.1% in 2004 -- were delivered surgically in a procedure also commonly called a C-section, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The number of C-sections has jumped 46% in the last decade and is increasing for women of all ages and races.

C-sections are favored when doctors believe vaginal delivery could cause medical complications, but they have become increasingly common for what would be considered normal births. The increase comes amid a controversy over whether some women are opting for medically unnecessary C-sections out of convenience and whether some doctors are performing them out of fear of being sued.

The birthrate for teens 15 to 19 fell 2% in 2005 from the previous year, to 40.4 births per 1,000, the lowest level since such statistics were first collected in 1940.

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Contraception and a delay in sexual activity appear to play a role in the teen birthrate decline, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Still, the U.S. teen birthrate is the highest among industrialized countries.

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Reuters and the Associated Press were used in compiling this report.


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