Absolute risk of home birth remains low, but elevated compared to hospital birth: Study

Absolute risk of home birth remains low, but elevated compared to hospital birth: Study

Home births were found to be overall safe with a slight increased risk of death of baby in America, unveils a study of Oregon births. Home births were also associated with lower chance of a C-section. The researchers said that overall risks to the baby remained low irrespective of the birth plan.

There were around two deaths per 1,000 births among planned hospital births vs four deaths per 1,000 births planned at home or birthing centers. Study’s lead researcher Jonathan Snowden, an epidemiologist at Oregon Health and Science University, said that the findings are based on the assessment of nearly 80,000 low-risk birth in Oregon during 2012 and 2013.

“Absolute risk of death is low in all settings — less than half of a percent. ... And in terms of that added risk, we see how someone weighs that as a personal choice”, affirmed Snowden.

The researchers noticed that women who planned outside hospital births faced different kinds of birth. Less number of women had their labor induced and a quarter of women choosing homebirths had C-section deliveries.

But the researchers have also noticed a rise in some complications like seizures and low Apgar scores among those women, who chose planned out-of-hospital births. Though a rise has been witnessed in the rate of home births, it remains a rarity. Less than 1% of women in America gave birth at home in 2012.

In an accompanying editorial, Michael Greene and Jeffrey Eckler, obstetricians from Massachusetts General Hospital, said that the present data empowers women to make rational decisions about their choices with regard to planned place of delivery.

Mark S. DeFrancesco, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that absolute risk of home birth remains low, but the research provides a clear picture that it’s more than a hospital birth. The study highlights the need to be truly informed.

ScientificAmerican reported that, a study comparing the risks of in-hospital and out-of-hospital births in Oregon finds the odds of infant death are more than two times higher for planned out-of-hospital births.

The results, published online December 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine differ from those of a recent, larger Canadian study that found newborn death rates were not higher among women who gave birth at home.

NPR report said, how safe is it in the United States to be born someplace other than a hospital? The question has long been the focus of emotional debate and conflicting information. Now, Oregon scientists and health workers who deliver babies have some research evidence that sheds a bit more light.

The study, which involved more than 75,000 low-risk births in the state in 2012 and 2013, found the risk of death for the baby appears to be twice as high when mothers planned to deliver at a birthing center or at home compared with when delivery was intended for a hospital. But in any location the overall risk to the child is very low, the study showed.

According to the Forbes, women who plan to give birth outside of the hospital have a considerably lower risk of cesarean deliveries and other obstetric interventions than women planning hospital births, but home-birthing mothers’ babies have a slightly increased likelihood of dying, according to a new study of Oregon births in the New England Journal of Medicine. Thanks to a change in the information recorded on Oregon birth certificates, this study is the first to reliably estimate outcomes for U.S. mothers and their newborns based on the setting where a woman chooses to give birth.

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