Cesarean sections, long decried as ubiquitous, costly, and often unnecessary, have halted a dozen years of consecutive increases, finds a new federal report. The rate of C-sections was flat, at 31.3%, from 2009 to 2011, and mothers-to-be are waiting until closer to their due dates to go under the knife. It's good news, experts say, showing increased awareness of C-section risks—such as medical issues for the baby, infection, and very rarely, death—and the importance of full-term delivery at 39 to 40 weeks. The number of C-sections at 38 weeks dropped 5%, while the 39-week rate got a 4% spike, the AP reports.
The report, focusing on single-child deliveries in 2011—96% of births that year—also found C-sections peaked in 2009 at 33% of all births, after climbing from 5% in 1970. Though the CDC can't explain the trend, it hopes to discover what's behind it while promoting even fewer C-sections in the future: Its goal is 15%. (Read more cesarean section stories.)