Caesarean section (CS) rates throughout Europe have risen significantly over the last two decades. As well as being an important clinical issue, these changes in mode of birth may have substantial resource implications. Policy initiatives to curb this rise have had to contend with the multiplier effect of women who had a CS for their first birth having a greater likelihood of requiring one during subsequent births, thus making it difficult to decrease CS rates in the short term. Our study examines the long-term resource implications of reducing CS rates among first-time mothers, as well as improving rates of vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC), among an annual cohort of women over the course of their most active childbearing years (18 to 44 years) in two public health systems in Europe. We found that the economic benefit of improvements in these two outcomes is considerable, with the net present value of the savings associated with a five-percentage-point change in nulliparous CS rates and VBAC rates being €1.1million and £9.8million per annual cohort of 18-year-olds in Ireland and England/Wales, respectively. Reductions in CS rates among first-time mothers are associated with a greater payoff than comparable increases in VBAC rates. The net present value of achieving CS rates comparable to those currently observed in the best performing Scandinavian countries was €3.5M and £23.0M per annual cohort in Ireland and England/Wales, respectively.
Moran, P., Normand, C., Mackin (now Gillen), P., Wuytack, F., Turner, M., Begley, C., & Daly, D. (2020). Economic implications of reducing caesarean section rates – Analysis of two health systems. PLoS ONE, 15(7), e0228309. [e0228309]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228309