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Birth stats Fewer caesarians taking place in Switzerland


This baby, born in a Zurich hospital, was delivered by cesarean section because she was in a breach position

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

There has been a slight fall in the number of caesarians in Switzerland, according to the latest childbirth statistics. But the rate remains high internationally.

A total of 85,990 women gave birth in a Swiss hospital or birthing home in 2017, figures released on Friday revealed. Most of these births took place in a hospital (98.3%), with birthing homes accounting for just under 2% (a rise of 0.6% since 2012).

Caesarians made up 32.3% of births. The rate of caesarians has been gradually falling since 2014 (-1.4%), the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) said in a statementexternal link.

The decline in the caesarean section rate is recent and small, so it is difficult to have a reliable explanation as to why, the FSO told

However, the Swiss rate of 32.3% “remains a very high caesarian rate in European comparison,” added the statement.

International comparisons

Neighbour Germany had a similar rate, whereas Italy was just ahead of Switzerland at around 35%, it said. The lowest rates were in Finland and Norway with just over 15%.

A study published inexternal link 2018 by the Lancetexternal link found that C-section deliveries had nearly doubled worldwide since 2000. It put the average rate for Western Europe at 26.9% (2015 figures).

This was lower than North America (32%) and considerably lower than in Latin America and the Caribbean at 44.3%, the world leader.

Breach, multiples

The most common reasons for the procedure in Switzerland were a breach birth, twins or triplets and that the baby was in an abnormal position. Women with private health care and those over 40 years old had higher rates too, at 45.6% and 50.7%, respectively.

The average age of women at birth is still rising. The percentage of women over 35 becoming mothers has tripled since 1970: then it was 11.3%, in 2017 it was 32.2%. There are now fewer mothers under 20 years old (1970: 3.6%, 2017, 0.4%).

But overall, complications during birth and pregnancy are rare, the statistics show.


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