World's Highest C-Section Rate is Where?

High rates of c-section aren’t just a concern in the U.S. In fact, hand-wringing over this country’s 31 percent c-section rate come across as overblown when considering the rate of surgical births in other areas of the world.

A World Health Organization survey, appearing in Lancet this week, found that c-section rates in nine Asian countries are skyrocketing. Overall, the region had a 27 percent rate of delivery. However! One country in particular reported nearly half of all births occurred in the operating room:


The world’s largest country sees half of all its new citizens come into the world via surgery. Moreover, the survey found that nearly a quarter of those operations were unnecessary.

The study didn’t look into reasons for the high rates, which contribute to what the WHO calls a worldwide epidemic, but USA Today asked doctors in the region to speculate. They said better access to the procedure, fear of pain, fear of disfigurement, better planning. Some expectant parents think it’s safer. The report said many Chinese parents opt for scheduled sections in order to pick lucky birthdates and times.

In Vietnam, where the rate is 36 percent, many women are told their frames are too small to deliver babies which, unlike the mothers themselves as fetuses, have been well-fed.

The WHO also noted in its report, according to USA Today, that “60 percent of the hospitals studied were motivated by financial incentives to perform surgeries.”

Cambodia and India had the lowest rates for c-section, 15 and 18 percent respectively.

While China has the world’s highest rate of c-section, according to the WHO, several countries in Latin America are also closing in on the 50 percent mark.

Eight countries surveyed there posted a 30 percent rate for the region. But Ecuador and Paraguay had 40 and 42 percent rates respectively.

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