Childbirth and Deliveries Becoming More Complicated

Fran Lowry

October 05, 2009

October 5, 2009 — The number of hospital stays for women who had a normal or uncomplicated birth decreased by 43% between 1997 and 2007, declining from 544,000 to 312,000 stays, according to new data released last week by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

However, this decrease was offset by a significant increase in the number of hospital stays for women with complications. During that decade, the number of hospital stays for women who had a previous cesarean delivery rose 107%, from 271,000 to 562,000; stays for women who had high blood pressure that complicated their pregnancy or childbirth rose 28%, from 185,000 to 235,000; and stays for women who had perineal trauma during childbirth increased 22%, from 713,000 to 868,000.

In contrast, hospital stays for women who had umbilical cord complications decreased 15%, from 259,000 to 219,000.

These data come from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which is part of AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

Conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth were the reason for more than 1 of every 5 female hospitalizations in 2007. When combined with stays for newborn infants, these hospitalizations accounted for one quarter of all hospital stays for men and women.

In addition, infant hospitalizations have increased 21%, to 4.7 million, since 1997, according to the AHRQ report.

AHRQ News and Numbers. October 1, 2009.

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