Objective. We studied prevalences and risk factors for cesarean section among different groups of immigrants from countries outside Western Europe and North America in comparison to ethnic Norwegians.
Methods. The study is population based using data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway. A total of 553,491 live births during the period 1986–1995 were studied, including 17,891 births to immigrant mothers.
Results. The prevalences of cesarean section ranged from 10.1% among women from Vietnam to 25.8% in the group of Filipino origin. The use of abdominal delivery was also high in the groups from Sri Lanka/India (21.3%), Somalia/Eritrea/Ethiopia (20.5%) and Chile/Brazil (24.3%), while the frequency among women from Turkey/Morocco (12.6%) and Pakistan (13.2%) was approximately the same as among ethnic Norwegians (12.4%). Feto-pelvic disproportion, fetal distress and prolonged labor were the most important diagnoses associated with the high prevalences, but the significance of these diagnoses differed among the groups. Other unknown factors come into play, particularly among women from Somalia/Eritrea/ Ethiopia and Chile/Brazil.
Conclusion. There was substantial variation in the use of cesarean section among ethnic groups in Norway. The diagnoses feto-pelvic disproportion, fetal distress and prolonged labor may be confounded by a number of factors including maternal request for cesarean section and difficulties in handling the delivery. Further research is needed to explain the observed differences.