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Death Risk 4 Times Higher for Home-Birth Babies

Death Risk 4 Times Higher for Home-Birth Babies
Recent studies have shown that the chance of neonatal death following a home birth is 12.6 in 10,000 compared to 3.2 in 10,000 for those giving birth in hospital.

The risks are especially high if it is the mother's first baby or if the baby is overdue. The risk increased in first-time mothers to 21.9 in 10,000 home deliveries. Health industry experts now say that prospective parents should be warned of the risks of home birth and be actively discouraged from going ahead with it. They say that there is an ‘ethical obligation’ to let expectant parents know the risks of home birth, and they are warning strongly against it.

Location - Not Staff

Researchers found that it was down to location, rather than the midwives delivering the baby, that the risk of death was increased.
The research was carried out by Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York, which found that - based on their 2012 birth data - if home births by midwives continue to grow at their current 10 per cent annual rate, then the number of unnecessary infant deaths would almost double from around 16 or 17 in 2009 to around 32 in 2016.

Ethical Obligation

Given the study’s findings, the authors said that obstetric practitioners have an ethical obligation to disclose the increased risks associated with planned home birth to expectant parents. They also continued to say that hospitals should create a welcoming and comfortable birthing environment and that hospitals should address unnecessary obstetric interventions, as this can put people off a hospital birth.

In the study, which is due to be presented at the American Society for Maternal-Foetal Medicine’s annual meeting in New Orleans later this week, neonatal mortality was defined as deaths up to 28 days after delivery. The most recent home birth statistics in the UK, from BirthChoice UK, show that of all 680,565 births occuring in 2011, 16,090 were at the mother's home.

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