Home births more dangerous, says major study

While best for mums, giving birth at home is riskier for babies

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A major American study has concluded that home births are significantly more risky than giving birth in a hospital.

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The research looked at over 300,000 planned home births and 200,000 planned hospital births. Worryingly, they found that the risk of a baby dying is three times higher with home births.

They did discover that mums at home are less likely to have medical intervention during birth and less vaginal tearing. But, said the scientists from Maine Medical Centre in Portland, these benefits were outweighed by the increased risk of the baby dying.

The main causes of death were found to be breathing problems during birth and failed resuscitation after delivery.

The scientists were particularly concerned as women having home births are normally those considered low risk and tend to be in good health. “It’s especially striking as women planning home births were of similar and often lower risk than those planning hospital births,” the report stated.

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Mary Newburn, head of research at the National Childbirth Trust, stated that it was an important study, but that it didn’t match NCT’s own findings and more research was needed. “NCT’s own detailed review of home birth concluded that, although the quality of comparative evidence on the safety of home birth is poor, there is no evidence that for women with a low risk of complications the likelihood of a baby dying is any higher if they plan for a home birth compared with planning for a hospital birth.”

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