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Rise in caesarean sections due to age, says women’s charity

Rise in caesarean sections due to age, says women’s charity

The proportion of women giving birth by caesarean sections has continued to rise, new figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have shown. The report, NHS Maternity Statistics – England, 2013-2014, indicates:

  • More than a quarter (26.2%) of births in 2013-14 were caesarean deliveries. [1]
  • This represents an increase of 0.7 percentage points from last year (25.5% of all births in 2012-13). In 2003-04, c-sections represented 22.7% of births in 2003-04.
  • The proportion of births by caesarean section has increased over the past twenty years. In 1993-94, 15% of all births in 1993-94 were by caesarean delivery. [2]

The increase in C-sections is likely to reflect a number of factors, including the impact of NICE guidance supporting women’s ability to choose ‘elective’ C-sections, and the rise in maternal age, with one in five births in 2013 to women over 35, compared with one in ten in 1993. The proportion of births to women over 40 has also doubled over the same period.[3]

While the risks of older motherhood are often overstated, figures from the HSCIC demonstrate that pregnant women over 35 are more likely to require a caesarean delivery. In 2012-2013, more than one-third (36%) of women aged 35 or older required a caesarean section, compared with one in five (20%) of births to women under 30.[4]

Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:

 “The increase in caesarean sections is likely to reflect the ongoing trend towards older motherhood. Many couples choose to obtain professional, financial and emotional security before starting a family, and as a result are waiting longer before having their first child. One in five babies are now born to women over the age of 35, while 20 years ago it was just one in 10.”

“We know that women in their late thirties and forties are more likely to require a caesarean section. Maternity services need to be able to accommodate these trends, including by providing the choice of hospital births and surgical interventions if women want or need them, and women’s choices need to be respected.”


Notes to Editors:

Further figures relating to maternal age, method of delivery and duration of hospital stay will be release by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on 25th February  2015.

For more information please contact bpas at press@bpas.org and 0207 612 0206 or 07788 725 185

About bpas

bpas is a charity which provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception from more than 40 centres across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.

[1] NHS Maternity Statistics - England, 2013-14: Summary Report http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB16725

[2] NHS Maternity Statistics, England: 2005-06 http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB01682/nhs-mater-2005-2006-rep.pdf

[3] NICE, Caesarean Scetion guidance, 2011 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg132/chapter/1-guidance  ONS, Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales, 2013 http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-317529

[4] HSCIC, NHS Maternity Statistics – 2012-13  http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB12744/nhs-mate-eng-2012-13-summ-repo-rep.pdf