Determinants of caesarean section rates in Italy

F. Parazzini, N. Pirotta, C. La Vecchia, L. Fedele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To analyse the determinants of caesarean section rates in Italy. Design: Analysis of information using a standard form on all the deliveries after the 28th week of gestation routinely collected by the Italian Central Institute of Statistics. Setting: National data of all Italian deliveries in the periods 1980-1983. Subjects: A total of more than 2400000 deliveries occurred in Italy in the period and are considered in this analysis. Results: The frequency of caesarean section rose from 11.2/100 deliveries in 1980 to 14.5/100 in 1983. Caesarean section rates were lower in the Southern (less rich) areas, and rose steadily with maternal age, being about three times higher in women aged ≥40 years than in teenagers. Maternal education was directly associated with caesarean section rates: compared with women with only primary school education, those with a college education reported an about 40% higher rate of caesarean section, but this difference dropped markedly after allowance for maternal age and birthweight. The section rate was 13.3/100 deliveries in public hospitals and 11.8/100 in private ones, but this reflected the different utilization of public and private services in various geographical areas. Birthweight and gestational age at delivery were important determinants of caesarean section rates; lowest values were observed for very-low-birthweight and very preterm deliveries and babies weighing 3000-3999 g and term deliveries. Caesarean section rates were about 20% higher in nulliparous than in parous women and the rates increased with number of stillbirths or miscarriages; further, the rate ratio was about double in multiple than in single births. Conclusion: Caesarean section rates in Italy in the early 1980s were still lower than in North America, but their determinants share several similarities with those reported in other areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-206
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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