Otago has recorded the country's second highest rate of
Caesarean section births, a Ministry of Health report shows.
The New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2010, released
last week, show Otago's Caesarean rate of 20.3% was behind
only one other board, Wairarapa.
The 2010 year is the last in which figures for Otago and
Southland will be separate, as part-way through that year the
two boards merged.
Southland's Caesarean rate, 13.5%, was less than the national
rate of 15.4%.
Dunedin Hospital women's health medical director Dr Andre
Smith said he was comfortable with Otago's Caesarean rate,
which while "relatively high" was acceptable.
The ministry did not look at all births, but rather a
selected age group where the mothers had an uncomplicated
pregnancy. Dr Smith did not think the chosen group allowed
like-for-like comparisons, because of demographic factors.
Taking in all births, Dunedin's rate was about 30% this year,
which was also not too high, Dr Smith said.
However, the ministry takes a different view, saying big
variations between boards and hospitals need to be examined
at a local level.
The birth indicators report should be used as a basis for
boards to do so, it said.
The women chosen for the analysis were expected to require
low levels of birthing assistance, the ministry said.
The report said intervention rates could be higher in
facilities that take transfers from community birthing
centres, a status shared by both Dunedin and Southland
Nationally, Caesarean rates ranged from 11% to 24%, while
births requiring no intervention ranged from 51% to 86%.
Otago's rate of births with no intervention, at 61.3%, was
lower than the national average of 70.1%.
Dr Smith said the ministry report, only the second of its
kind produced, was a start towards gaining a proper
representation of the situation.
He said concern about Dunedin Hospital's Caesarean rate
sparked a review a couple of years ago, which found the
procedure was not over-used.