Although there is no evidence that elevated rates of cesarean sections (CS) translate into reduced maternal/child perinatal morbidity or mortality, CS have been increasingly overused almost everywhere, both in high and low-income countries. The primary cesarean section (PCS) has become a major driver of the overall CS (OCS) rate, since it carries intrinsic risk of repeat CS (RCS) in future pregnancies. In our study we examined patterns of PCS, pl compared with planned TOLAC anned PCS (PPCS), vaginal birth after 1 previous CS (VBAC-1) and associated factors in Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), a region of North-Eastern Italy, collecting data from its 11 maternity centres (coded from A to K) during 2005–2015. By fitting three multiple logistic regression models (one for each delivery mode), we calculated the adjusted rates of PCS and PPCS among women without history of CS, whilst the calculation of the VBAC rate was restricted to women with just one previous CS (VBAC-1). Results, expressed as odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (95%CI), were controlled for the effect of hospital, calendar year as well as several factors related to the clinical and obstetric conditions of the mothers and the newborn, the obstetric history and socio-demographic background. In FVG during 2005–2015 there were 24,467 OCS (rate of 24.2%), 19,565 PCS (19.6%), 7,736 PPCS (7.7%) and 2,303 VBAC-1 (28.4%). We found high variability of delivery mode (DM) at hospital level, especially for PCS and PPCS. Breech presentation was the strongest determinant for PCS as well as PPCS. Leaving aside placenta previa/abuptio placenta/ante-partum hemorrhage, further significant factors, more importantly associated with PCS than PPCS were non-reassuring fetal status and obstructed labour, followed by (in order of statistical significance): multiple birth; eclampsia/pre-eclampsia; maternal age 40–44 years; placental weight 600-99 g; oligohydramios; pre-delivery LoS 3–5 days; maternal age 35–39 years; placenta weight 1,000–1,500 g; birthweight < 2,000 g; maternal age ≥ 45 years; pre-delivery LoS ≥ 6 days; mother’s age 30–34 years; low birthweight (2,000–2,500 g); polyhydramnions; cord prolaspe; ≥6 US scas performed during pregnancy and pre-term gestations (33–36 weeks). Significant factors for PPCS were (in order of statistical significance): breech presentation; placenta previa/abruptio placenta/ante-partum haemorrhage; multiple birth; pre-delivery LoS ≥ 3 days; placental weight ≥ 600 g; maternal age 40–44 years; ≥6 US scans performed in pregnancy; maternal age ≥ 45 and 35–39 years; oligohydramnios; eclampsia/pre-eclampsia; mother’s age 30–34 years; birthweight <2,000 g; polyhydramnios and pre-term gestation (33–36 weeks). VBAC-1 were more likely with gestation ≥ 41 weeks, placental weight <500 g and especially labour analgesia. During 2005–2015 the overall rate of PCS in FVG (19.6%) was substantially lower than the corresponding figure reported in 2010 for the entire Italy (29%) and still slightly under the most recent national PCS rate for 2017 (22.2%). The VBAC-1 rate on women with history of one previous CS in FVG was 28.4% (25.3% considering VBAC on all women with at least 1 previous CS), roughly three times the Italian national rate of 9% reported for 2017. The discrepancy between the OCS rate at country level (38.1%) and FVG’s (24.2%) is therefore mainly attributable to RCS. Although there was a marginal decrease of PCS and PPCS crudes rates over time in the whole region, accompained by a progressive enhancement of the crude VBAC rate, we found remarkable variability of DM across hospitals. To further contain the number of unnecessary PCS and promote VBAC where appropriate, standardized obstetric protocols should be introduced and enforced at hospital level. Decision-making on PCS should be carefully scrutinized, introducing a diagnostic second opinion for all PCS, particularly for term singleton pregancies with cephalic presentation and in case of obstructed labour as well as non-reassuring fetal status, grey areas potentially affected by subjective clinical assessment. This process of change could be facilitated with education of staff/patients by opinion leaders and prenatal counseling for women and partners, although clinical audits, financial penalties and rewards to efficient maternity centres could also be considered.
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