A new study finds that the rate of caesarian (C-section) and induced births is on a sharp decline, reversing a decades-long trend of increased rates of obstetric interventions. Researchers from multiple institutions including the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University examined data from 25 million birth certificates that gave details about method of delivery. They found measurable drops in the amount of obstetric interventions taking place in babies delivered both late pre-term (34-36 weeks of pregnancy) and early term (37-38 weeks of pregnancy). Researchers found there was a decrease in obstetric interventions from 33% in 2006 to 21% in 2014 for early-term infants and a slight decrease, from 6.8% to 5.7% for infants born in late pre-term births during this time frame.

Unnecessary obstetric interventions have been an issue of growing concern because they can lead to additional health complications such as uterine hyperstimualtion, uterine rupture and cord prolapse. In 2011, one in every three pregnant women delivered their babies via caesarian section in the US, leading to health professionals becoming concerned that invasive procedures were becoming more common and overused.

This decline could be linked to American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) advising doctors to hold off obstetric induction methods till 39 weeks of pregnancy or later. At the moment, a lot of research is required to exactly pinpoint the cause of this decline as it is unclear as to whether the decline is due to fewer patients going into labor [needing obstetric interventions] or if doctors are intentionally delivering fewer babies this way. Dr David Hackney, a maternal fetal medicine doctor at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said, “It always feels good to have a long-standing public health and educational campaign of decreasing medical interventions.”