Skin-to-skin newborn after C-section

C-section rates have been stable over past several years in Canada. (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)

Childbirth tops the list of reasons Canadians stay in hospital, a new report shows.

Giving birth was the main reason for inpatient hospitalization in 2012-13. The birth of babies accounted for 369,454 hospital stays in 2012-13, or nearly 13 per cent of acute hospital stays, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said Tuesday.

It’s the first time the institute has reported on the top 10 reasons for hospitalizations and inpatient surgeries, said Agnita Pal, the institute’s manager of clinical administrative databases operations in Toronto.

"We had about 2.9 million hospitalizations in Canada and 1.4 million inpatient surgeries, so I think examining the top 10 reasons helps us better understand the hospitalization trends," Pal said in an interview.

Canadians admitted to hospital stayed an average of 7.1 days, similar to previous years.

The top five reasons for inpatient surgeries were:

  • C-section delivery: 100,686 surgeries.
  • Knee replacement: 57,829 surgeries.
  • Hip replacement: 47,297 surgeries.
  • Hysterectomy: 40,127 surgeries.
  • Coronary artery dilation: 40,074 surgeries.

As more services become available as outpatient procedures or to facilities outside of hospital, such as birthing centres, CIHI said there’s been a moderate decline in the total number of hospitalizations across Canada each year.

Birthing centres exist in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Among Canadian provinces, C-section rates dropped slightly in Ontario last year.  

Over the past six years, the rates have also dropped in Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario, a spokeswoman said.

The top five reasons for inpatient hospitalizations were:

  • Giving birth: 369,454 hospitalizations.
  • Respiratory disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive asthma and bronchitis: 76,705 hospitalizations.
  •  Heart attack: 68,835 hospitalizations.
  •  Pneumonia: 60,077 hospitalizations.
  •  Heart failure: 56,260 hospitalizations.

Hip and knee replacements were the exceptions to the moderate decline. Of the top five reasons for surgery, hip replacement had the longest average hospital stay at 7.7 days.