Fewer births; hospitalization rate down 31% in 15 years

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2010–2011 data on childbirth/number of newborns

2010–2011 data on inpatient hospitalizations and emergency department visits

June 21, 2012—The number of babies born in Canadian hospitals in 2010–2011 dropped by 1.5% (about 5,600 newborns), compared with the year before, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). This is the first time there has been a decrease in births since 2002–2003.

These statistics, which are updated annually, have been published along with selected indicators that describe births in Canada.

New information is also available on hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits. For the first time, this year’s update includes emergency data from Alberta.

Key Highlights

Childbirth and Number of Newborns

  • The rate of babies born in Canadian hospitals before 37 weeks’ gestation (preterm births) has remained relatively stable at 1 in 12 (7.9% in 2010–2011 versus 8.1% in 2006–2007). The highest rates of preterm birth were in Alberta (8.6%) and Ontario (8.1%). Only Quebec (7.3%) had a rate significantly below the national rate of 7.9%.
  • The rate of singleton babies born in Canadian hospitals who were small for their gestational age (SGA) increased significantly from 8.3% in 2006–2007 to 8.7% in 2010–2011. Ontario (9.3%) and Alberta (9.0%) saw the highest SGA rates among the provinces. Prince Edward Island (6.3%) and Saskatchewan (7.3%) had the lowest provincial rates.
  • Epidural rates and primary Caesarean-section rates have been stable over the years but continue to vary significantly across provinces.
    • About two-thirds of vaginal deliveries in Quebec (70.0%) and Ontario (61.5%) were preceded by an epidural—nearly double the rates in Manitoba (37.5%) and British Columbia (32.5%).
    • Canadian women age 35 and older had significantly higher primary C-section rates than their younger counterparts (23.1% versus 17.1%). Among the provinces, the primary C-section rates in women age 35 and older ranged from highs of 30.3% in Newfoundland and Labrador and 28.3% in B.C. to lows of 20.4% in Saskatchewan and 18.9% in Quebec.

Inpatient Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits

  • In 2010–2011, Canadian acute care hospitals had approximately 2.8 million inpatient hospitalizations; this figure has remained stable since 2001–2002. After adjusting for age, sex and population growth, the hospitalization rates in acute care facilities across Canada have dropped 31% since 1995–1996.
  • In 2010–2011, there were approximately 15.8 million ED visits in Canada. With the reporting of emergency data from Alberta, CIHI’s coverage of ED visits increased to 52%—a rise from 36% in 2009–2010.
  • Regarding how long people spent in the ED between time of registration and physically leaving the ED, those in Ontario facilities had a longer stay than those in Alberta (using the age-standardized median, 50% of Ontario patients spent 2.5 hours in the ED while 50% of Alberta patients spent 1.9 hours).

Media contacts: media@cihi.ca

Sandra Koppert
Cell: 613-297-7792

Crystal Mohr
Cell: 613-612-3808

About CIHI

Established in 1994, CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. Funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments, CIHI is guided by a Board of Directors made up of health leaders across the country. Our vision is to improve Canada’s health system and the well-being of Canadians by being a leading source of unbiased, credible and comparable information that will enable health leaders to make better-informed decisions.

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