This study examines the possible reasons for increased obstetric activity in Denmark over the past 25 years. Since 1960 there has been a substantial increase in the average number of hospital admissions (from 10 to 32 per 100 deliveries), in deliveries diagnosed as complicated (from 15 to 49%), and above all in major interventions at delivery (from 4 to 22%). In spite of this increase in activity there is no evidence that the postwar trend of decreasing perinatal mortality has been further improved during the period of study. It seems possible that the rising level of activity is the result of increasing availability of new technology, decreasing numbers of deliveries and unchanged obstetric staffing levels, with an increased tendency to diagnose and intervene in "at risk" pregnancies. There is a need to determine how the current level of obstetric activity has arisen. Since there is evidence for an increased expectation of intervention by pregnant women, the theory of supplier induced demand may be among the leading contenders to be tested.
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