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BIRTH 27:2 June 2000


According to the latest birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the use of electronic fetal monitoring, ultrasound, stimulation of labor, and induction of labor continued to rise in 1998 to unprecedented levels (1). At the same time, the total cesarean rate, which had fallen each year from 1989 to 1996, rose for the second consecutive year while the primary cesarean rate (rate per 100 births to women with no previous cesarean) rose for the first time during the 1989–1998 period. After increasing by 50 percent between 1989 and 1996, the rate of vaginal birth after previous cesarean (VBAC) declined consecutively in 1997 and 1998. The general pattern during the 1989–1998 period was a decline in births delivered by forceps with a concomitant rise in births delivered by vacuum extraction. However, a slight decline in vacuum-extraction births occurred between 1997 and 1998.

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