Variations in first-time caesarean birth between Eastern African immigrants and Australian-born women in public care: A population-based investigation in Victoria

Fetene B. Belihu, Rhonda Small, Mary-Ann Davey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Caesarean section (CS) rates are known to vary by country, migration status and social group. However, little population-based, confounder adjusted evidence exists on caesarean rate for African immigrants in Australia. Aim: To investigate disparities in first-time caesarean, mainly unplanned caesarean in labour for women born in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan relative to Australian-born women in public care. Methods: A population-based study of 237 943 Australian and 4057 Eastern African singleton births between 1999 and 2007, was conducted using Victorian Perinatal Data Collection. Descriptive and multivariable logistic regression analysis by parity, adjusting for confounders selected a priori, was performed for first-time unplanned caesarean in labour and overall caesarean. Results: Primiparae born in each of the Eastern African countries had elevated odds of unplanned caesarean in labour: Eritrea adjusted odds ratio (ORadj) 2.04 95% CI (1.41, 2.97), Ethiopia ORadj 2.08 95% CI (1.62, 2.68), Somalia ORadj 1.62 95% CI (1.25, 2.10) and Sudan ORadj 1.39 95% CI (1.03, 1.87). Similarly, multiparae from Eastern African countries had elevated odds of unplanned caesarean in labour: Eritrea ORadj 2.13 95%CI(1.15, 3.97), Ethiopia ORadj 2.05 95% CI (1.38, 3.03), Somalia ORadj 2.16 95% CI (1.69, 2.77) and Sudan ORadj 1.81 95% CI (1.32, 2.49). The odds of any first-time caesarean (planned or unplanned) were elevated for primiparae born in all countries except Sudan and for multiparae born in Ethiopia and Somalia. Conclusions: We observed substantial variations in a first-time CS between Eastern African and Australian-born women in Victoria, Australia. However, these disparities were unexplained by socio-demographic and clinical risks, suggesting the potential importance of other factors such as communication difficulties, support systems for immigrant pregnant women and possible differences in care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-301
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • caesarean birth
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • unplanned caesarean

Cite this