1 in 3 births in Belize now by C-section

More Belizean women are having babies via Caesarean section, according to a report just released following a joint study, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2015, conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), in collaboration with the Government of Belize and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The report indicated that more than a third of Belizean women ages 15-49 years (an estimated 34.2%) delivered their babies via Caesarean section. The data is applicable to women who delivered babies within the past two years.

Previous MICS reports have indicated that 28.1% of women in Belize had been delivering their babies by C-section.

Data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the years 2007 to 2014, and which quoted the rate of C-sections among Belizean women at 28%, put the global mean at 19%—still higher than what WHO deems to be the ideal rate.

“Since 1985, the international healthcare community has considered the ideal rate for caesarean sections to be between 10-15%. Since then, caesarean sections have become increasingly common in both developed and developing countries,” WHO said in its statement on Caesarean section rates made in April 2015. Belize’s high rate of C-sections is comparable to the rate for the US, a developed country, where similarly, every 1 in 3 women is said to deliver her baby via a Caesarean section.

Women who routinely deliver babies surgically can have fewer children during their productive years. In Belize, women are advised that after three C-section births, they should be sterilized via a tubal ligation procedure, locally called a “tie-off.”

Other revelations of the MICS report

The report, based on a survey of more than 5,200 households, said that the average household size in 2015 was found to be 3.8 persons.

Of all children under five years old, 4.6 percent were found to be underweight, down from 6% in 2011. Meanwhile, 15 percent were considered to be stunted or below the normal height for their age as per World Health Organization standards, down from 19.3% in 2011.

Furthermore, roughly 12 percent of infants were of low birth weight, weighing below 2,500 grams or less than five and a half pounds at birth, up from 11.1% in 2011.

More than nine out of every ten children born in the last two years were breastfed, with one third of infants younger than six months old being exclusively breastfed.

The survey also provided life satisfaction indices. Roughly three in four Belizeans reported that life has improved within the past year and they hope for better in the next year, compared to 65% in the 2011 survey.

According to the survey, 8 times more men than women use tobacco, including smokeless tobacco products. Likewise, 8 times more men smoke than women.

Notably, though, the gap closes for alcohol consumption: for which the ratio of men who drink to women who drink is only 2 to 1.

View the full report