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More women having babies at home, but are there risks?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Home births

Home births can be risky, but a new report shows increasing numbers of women have their babies at home.

The number of planned home births jumped 20 percent between 2004 and 2008, with Montana having the highest number of women having babies outside of a hospital setting.

Among the other highest states for home births were Vermont and Oregon, with Mississippi, Louisiana and Delaware showing the lowest numbers.

Risks of home births highlighted by Obstetricians

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement, January, 2011, highlighting potential risks of home births, that they say carries a two to three fold increased chance of infant mortality, compared to hospital births.

For low risk women, the experts also stated the absolute risk of complications is low, but based on published medical evidence, they do not support home births.

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The group suggests women planning birth at home engage in prenatal care to include Group B Strep screening and treatment, genetic screening, and HIV screening and consider health risks that would make it unsafe to birth at home and have a backup plan to get to a hospital quickly if needed.

Some states see a 50 percent jump in home births

Marian MacDorman, lead study authors says the jump in home births should, which had declined from 1990 to 2004, should “be of interest to practitioners and policymakers.

The new study shows the increase in home births is primarily among non-Hispanic white women. The authors suggest those that occur among other ethnic groups are either unplanned or emergencies, based on data that deliveries were accompanied by physicians or “other attendees” versus midwives.

The percentage of complications has decreased, including premature and low birth weight deliveries. North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, and Maryland had a 50 percent jump in home births from 2004 to 2008, while Vermont, Nevada, and Arkansas reported the greatest decreases.

Birth Issues in Perinatal Care: DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2010.00444.x
“Trends and Characteristics of Home Births in the United States by Race and Ethnicity, 1990–2006”
Marian F. MacDorman PhD, Eugene Declercq PhD, Fay Menacker DrPH, CPNP

Image credit: Morguefile