Miami hospital has highest C-section rate in United States

Florida hospitals have among the highest cesarean section rates for low-risk pregnancies for first-time mothers in the nation. Consumer Reports analyzed C-section data reported by more than 1200 hospitals across the country. They found C-section rates varied significantly among institutions and within the same communities. Low-risk pregnancies are defined as those in which the baby is not breach and has undergone a gestation period of 37 weeks or more.

Florida had an average C-section rate of 32 percent for low-risk pregnancies in 2014. Miami area hospitals were even more likely to perform the procedure. Hialeah Hospital had the highest C-section rate of all hospitals in the study at 68 percent. South Miami Hospital also had a high rate of 53 percent.

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, the target national C-section rate is under 23.9 percent for first-time pregnancies with low risk. However, many hospitals cross that number. Experts say there are various reasons for high C-section rates in Florida such as patient preference, cultural inclination or doctors practicing defensive medicine.

At times surgical delivery is essential for the mother and baby’s safety. For example, an emergency C-section may be necessary if the placenta blocks the cervix or if the fetus is in the wrong position. In addition, mothers who have gestational diabetes or high blood pressure may require the procedure.

However, medically unnecessary C-sections can give rise to a number of dangers such as fetal distress and breathing problems for the baby. Researchers estimate that nearly half of the nation’s C-sections are performed despite the possibility of a safe vaginal delivery in a low-risk pregnancy.

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