Why so many caesarean sections? the need for a further policy change in Brazil

Fernando C. Barros, J. Patrick Vaughan, Cesar G. Victora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Caesarean sections in Brazil rose from 15 per cent of all births in 1970 to over 30 per cent in 1980. A new policy was introduced by the largest medical care provider (INAMPS) which made the reimbursement fee payable to doctors the same for both vaginal and caesarean section deliveries. However the caesarean rate has continued to rise. This study analysed the antenatal care and deliveries of over 7000 births which occurred during 1982 in the city of Pelotas in southern Brazil. The organization of health care is discussed in relation to the findings on the utilization of the different antenatal and delivery services available. Utilization is then related to the gestational risk and socio-economic status of the mothers. There were marked differentials between the low and high risk mothers and between those from high and low income families. Doctors clearly concentrated their efforts on the low risk and high income mothers, with 50 per cent of private patients having an operative delivery compared to 13 per cent of uninsured mothers. There was a large demand for tubal ligations to be carried out at the same time as the caesareans. The non-medical and financial reasons for these high rates are discussed and the high extra cost that is being incurred by patients and the insurance schemes is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Education
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)


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