Breech Birth Statistics

by Mrs. BWF on September 6, 2011

This article by Richard Fischer, M.D. gives eye opening and reliable information about breech births.

Vaginal Breech Birth

Types of Breeches

  • Frank breech (50-70%) – Hips flexed, knees extended (pike position)
  • Complete breech (5-10%) – Hips flexed, knees flexed (cannonball position)
  • Footling or incomplete (10-30%) – One or both hips extended, foot presenting

Percent of Breech Babies

Breech presentation is defined as a fetus in a longitudinal lie with the buttocks or feet closest to the cervix. This occurs in 3-4% of all deliveries. The percentage of breech deliveries decreases with advancing gestational age from 22% of births prior to 28 weeks’ gestation to 7% of births at 32 weeks’ gestation to 1-3% of births at term.[1]

96-97% of babies will turn head down prior to their birth (97-99% if born at term).

Predisposing factors for breech presentation include prematurity, uterine malformations or fibroids, polyhydramnios, placenta previa, fetal abnormalities (eg, CNS malformations, neck masses, aneuploidy), and multiple gestations. Fetal abnormalities are observed in 17% of preterm breech deliveries and in 9% of term breech deliveries.

Of the 1-3% of term breech babies, there is a 9% chance of fetal abnormalities being present. It is higher in preterm breech deliveries.

Perinatal mortality is increased 2- to 4-fold with breech presentation, regardless of the mode of delivery. Deaths are most often associated with malformations, prematurity, and intrauterine fetal demise.

The perinatal mortality rate does increase with breech presentation, but that is REGARDLESS OF THE TYPE OF BIRTH! The increased death rate is due to malformations already present, prematurity and intrauterine fetal demise!


Wait. Be patient and keep an eye on baby. Most breech babies will turn head down. Also, prematurity increases risk of death. Wait for that baby to fully develop so s(he) is ready to be earthside (don’t induce or have an early cesarean if there is no medical indication to do so). Most issues with breech births are because of other factors and not because of where baby is born.


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