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More than 1 in 4 babies in Ontario is delivered by C-section


Twenty-eight per cent of babies who are delivered in Ontario hospitals are born via caesarean section. That number jumps to 84 per cent if their mother has had a previous C-section according to the latest findings of the POWER Study.

Researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) say overall 23 per cent of Ontario women who give birth at full term, to a single baby in the head-down position deliver by C-section and this rate varies from 17 to 26 per cent across the province.

“The number of women who deliver their babies by C-section is high nationally and in Ontario these rates vary considerably across the province. While C-sections are necessary in certain clinical situations, it is of concern when low risk women have their babies delivered by C-section,” says Dr. Arlene Bierman, principal investigator of the study. “As with any surgery, there are risks associated with a caesarean section for mothers and their babies. Once a woman has had a C-section it is likely she will have one for subsequent pregnancies. It’s very important that women understand and are informed of their choices and participate actively in deciding upon treatment options when it comes to pregnancy and delivery.

The POWER (Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report) Study is the first in the province to provide a comprehensive overview of women’s health in relation to income, education, ethnicity and geography. The findings are detailed in the report titled Reproductive and Gynaecological Health-the tenth chapter to be released as part of the study. Findings can be used by policymakers and health-care providers to improve access, quality and outcomes of care for Ontario women. The POWER Study was funded by Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“The findings of the POWER Study’s Reproductive and Gynaecological Health chapter are encouraging,” says Pat Campbell, CEO, Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario. “We are pleased that there are low rates of adverse outcomes for women and babies during birth. Despite the good news, this chapter also makes it clear that more needs to be done to improve care across the province by reducing regional variation and reducing the use of higher risk procedures when there are lower risk options available.”

The POWER Study report, released today, examined Reproductive and Gynaecological Health. Key findings include:

  • Overall, 28 per cent of all hospital deliveries were done by C-section.
  • Among women who had full-term, singleton, vertex presentations, 23 per cent of deliveries were done by C-section. Among women who had a previous C-section, 84 per cent of deliveries were done by caesarean section.
  • Nearly three-quarters of women who had a vaginal delivery were discharged home within 48 hours of delivery and almost 90 per cent of women who had a C-section were discharged within 96 hours of delivery.
  • The overall rates of adverse outcomes (severe maternal morbidity, birth trauma to newborns and low 5-minute Apgar score) were low and provide evidence that Ontario is a very safe place for women to give birth and for babies to be born.

Other findings from the study will be released later this year.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.


  • Julie McFayden, Echo
  • 416-597-9687 ext. 232