Cesarean Nation: How China came to have the world’s highest Cesarean rate, and what they’re doing about it

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This thought-provoking article from the Slate.com discusses how China came to have the highest Cesarean rate in the world, and talks about some ways in which they’re now looking to reverse this trend in hopes of lowering this staggering statistic.

The article starts by reviewing a survey of Chinese hospitals done by the World Health Organization in 2007 and 2008. The study found that during this time 46 percent of babies in China were born though cesarean section, which is currently the highest documented rate in the world (and well above the WHO recommended threshold of 15%).

The article goes on to argue that the one-child policy has indirectly pushed the country’s C-section rate over the top, by “setting off a cascade of cultural changes that transformed not just family size but the very nature of childbirth itself.”

However, this story does have a positive ending: Beijing will be launching a training program for midwives in response to the increasing rate of Cesarean births, and signs point to natural childbirth becoming trendy. Water births are now available in the most developed cities across the country, and reports say that some expectant women are beginning to seek out hospitals with lower cesarean rates, believing they’ll get better care.

Questions still remain: is this enough to start reversing this trend? and what else can be done to help expecting moms know and understand their birth options and help them to have the best birth possible?

:: Click here to read the full article on Slate.com: Cesarean Nation: The cautionary tale of how China came to have the world’s highest C-section rate.

:: Click here to download the WHO publication (PDF): Method of delivery and pregnancy outcomes in Asia: the WHO global survey on maternal and perinatal health 2007–08

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