Primary Cesarean Delivery Patterns among Women with Physical, Sensory, or Intellectual Disabilities

Blair G. Darney, Frances M. Biel, Brian P. Quigley, Aaron B. Caughey, Willi Horner-Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background Little is known about the relationship between disability and mode of delivery. Prior research has indicated elevated risk of cesarean delivery among women with certain disabilities, but has not examined patterns across multiple types of disability or by parity. Objective This study sought to determine whether physical, sensory, or intellectual and developmental disabilities are independently associated with primary cesarean delivery. Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all deliveries in California from 2000 to 2010 using linked birth certificate and hospital discharge data. We identified physical, sensory, and intellectual and developmental disabilities using International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, clinical modification codes. We used logistic regression to examine the association of these disabilities and primary cesarean delivery, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and comorbidities, and stratified by parity. Results In our sample, 0.45% of deliveries (20,894/4,610,955) were to women with disabilities. A greater proportion of women with disabilities were nulliparous, had public insurance, and had comorbidities (e.g., gestational diabetes) compared with women without disabilities (p < .001 for all). The proportion of primary cesarean in women with disabilities was twice that in women without disabilities (32.7% vs. 16.3%; p < .001; adjusted odds ratio, 2.05; 95% confidence interval, 1.94–2.17). The proportion of deliveries by cesarean was highest among women with physical disabilities due to injuries compared with women without disabilities (57.8% vs. 16.3%; p < .001; adjusted odds ratio, 6.83; 95% confidence interval, 5.46–8.53). Conclusions Women across disability subgroups have higher odds of cesarean delivery, and there is heterogeneity by disability type. More attention is needed to this population to ensure better understanding of care practices that may impact maternal and perinatal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-344
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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