Changes in maternal risk factors and their association with changes in cesarean sections in Norway between 1999 and 2016: A descriptive population-based registry study
Methods and findings - This national population-based registry study utilizes data from 1,055,006 births registered in the Norwegian Medical Birth Registry from 1999 to 2016. The following maternal risk factors for CS were included: nulliparous/≥35 years, multiparous/≥35 years, pregestational diabetes, gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders, previous CS, assisted reproductive technology, and multiple births. The proportion of CS births in 1999 was used to predict the number of CS births in 2016. The observed and predicted numbers of CS births were compared to determine the number of excess CS births, before and after considering the selected risk factors, for all births, and for births stratified by 0, 1, or >1 of the selected risk factors. The proportion of CS births increased from 12.9% to 16.1% (+24.8%) during the study period. The proportion of births with 1 selected risk factor increased from 21.3% to 26.3% (+23.5%), while the proportion with >1 risk factor increased from 4.5% to 8.8% (+95.6%). Stratification by the presence of selected risk factors reduced the number of excess CS births observed in 2016 compared to 1999 by 67.9%. Study limitations include lack of access to other important maternal risk factors and only comparing the first and the last year of the study period.
Conclusions - In this study, we observed that after an initial increase, proportions of CS births remained stable from 2005 to 2016. Instead, both the size of the risk population and the mean number of risk factors per birth continued to increase. We observed a possible association between the increase in size of risk population and the additional CS births observed in 2016 compared to 1999. The increase in size of risk population and the stable CS rate from 2005 and onward may indicate consistent adherence to obstetric evidence-based practice in Norway.