Cesarean Deliveries, Outcomes, and Opportunities for Change in California

California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative

Cesarean delivery rates in California rose by 50% between 1998 and 2008. But new data on health risks, geographic variation, and costs support a movement to curb unnecessary C-sections.

November 2012

Cesarean deliveries are associated with greater health complications and higher economic costs, for mother and baby, with little demonstrable benefit in the majority of cases. Despite this fact, cesarean delivery rates in California have risen by 50% between 1998 and 2008, climbing from 22% to 33% of all births in just a decade.

Research from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), in partnership with the Pacific Business Group on Health and the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, uncovers wide variation in delivery practices among California hospitals and regions, examines the cultural and labor management factors at play, and provides economic analysis of the potential cost savings of reduced cesarean deliveries.

Informed by these study findings, a white paper funded by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) also includes a set of recommendations and strategies for reducing cesarean rates in California. In particular, one recommendation calls for the creation of a source of reliable, timely, and relevant quality data to drive change efforts. The CMQCC, in partnership with several state agencies, and with funding from CHCF, is currently engaged in piloting such a source: the California Maternal Data Center.

The authors of the white paper also contributed to the Current Commentary section of the November 2012 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The white paper and journal article are available through the External Links below.