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New Study Challenges Current Cesarean Guidelines for Improved Birth Outcomes

Statement From:
Maria Brooks, BSN, RNC-OB, LCCE, FACCE
President, Lamaze International

Media Contact:  
Melissa Zuckerman, JPA Health Communications,

Washington, D.C. (December 3, 2015)

This week, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a new study on the relationship between cesarean birth rate and maternal and neonatal mortality. Using analyses of the impact of cesarean birth on maternal and neonatal mortality, researchers suggest that the previously recommended global cesarean birth rate guideline of 10 to 15 percent for optimal maternal and neonatal birth outcomes may be too low. Instead, the authors suggest that cesarean birth rates of up to approximately 19 percent were associated with lower maternal or neonatal mortality, among certain geographic locations.

The study highlights that there may be a discrepancy in the current recommended rate and the rate observed during research. We applaud these researchers on continuing to shine a light on optimal maternal and neonatal birth outcomes. However, despite the variance in cesarean rate guidelines, global cesarean rates are still too high, and directly affect maternal and neonatal mortality rates. The United States’ cesarean birth rate is 32.7%[1], far higher than the recommended rate from the study. There is an overuse of cesarean births in the United States, when not medically necessary. These unnecessary cesarean births increase health risks to mom, baby and future pregnancies.  

Lamaze International has long promoted the evidence-based Six Healthy Birth Practices that reduce the need for unnecessary birth interventions, including elective cesarean births and elective inductions of labor. Evidence-based childbirth education has shown to reduce elective inductions, which can increase the likelihood of having a cesarean birth.  Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators provide expectant parents with the information they need to help them make better-informed birth decisions.

Click here for more information about how women can have the healthiest and safest birth.


About Lamaze International:
Lamaze International advances safe and healthy pregnancy, birth and early parenting through evidence-based education and advocacy. Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman’s body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years. Lamaze education and practices are based on the best and most current medical evidence available. Working closely with their families, health care providers and Lamaze educators, millions of pregnant women have achieved their desired childbirth outcomes using Lamaze practices. The best way to learn about Lamaze’s steps to a safe and healthy birth is to take a class with a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE). To find classes in your area, or for more information visit


[1] Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J.K, et al. Births: Final data for 2013. National vital statistics reports; vol 64 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015. Retrieved from


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