Childbirth at home doubles risk of infant death, study says

A US study of 350,000 home births and 200,000 hospital deliveries suggests that infants born at home have twice the mortality rate of those born in hospitals in the US and Europe.

Although the risk of death is still low at .02%, researchers believe that the risks of giving birth at home have been previously underestimated due to inaccurately recorded data:

The researchers argued that the safety of home births may have previously been overplayed by the fact that when there are complications and a woman is rushed to hospital, any adverse outcome is recorded as a hospital birth.

Home deliveries did prove to have a more rapid recovery time for mothers, fewer cases of hemmoraging, fewer cases of tearing and a reduced rate of infections. But researchers do say the benefits come with the added risk:

“Women choosing home birth, particularly low-risk individuals who had given birth previously, are in large part successful in achieving their goal of delivering with less morbidity and medical intervention than experienced during hospital-based childbirth,” said lead author Dr Joseph Wax from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Maine Medical Center.

“Of significant concern, these apparent benefits are associated with a doubling of the neonatal mortality rate overall and a near tripling among infants born without congenital defects.”

Among the infants in the study that died during a home birth, the most common factors involved were respiratory troubles and failed attempts at resuscitation.