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News

US Doctors Warn Against Home Birth

20/08/2010

A recent article in British medical journal The Lancet warns that choosing to give have your baby at home can increase the risk of mortality three-fold.

By James Tweedie

The editorial piece is based on research published by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG) on July 1 in response to increasing demand for home delivery.

The paper, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, incorporated data from 12 separate studies nationwide.

The the number of home births has increased in recent years. A third of Dutch women now have home births. In the UK, three per cent of total births occur at home,while in the USA home delivery accounts for just one per cent of births or 25 000 deliveries per year.

US mums-to-be are apparently concerned that obstetricians too often resort to caesarian section birth when faced with complications in labour, and believe that home birth gives them more control.

The ACOG research concluded that, after statistics for children with birth defects were ruled out, the lack of immediate access to emergency medical services during home birth tripled the risk of neonatal mortality.

But professional association the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA called the study flawed, claiming that it based its conclusions on poor data.

MANA president Geradine Simkins said: "The American public, particularly women in the childbearing years and those who care for them, have a right to high quality research on childbirth.

"Research literature should not be used to cause undue alarm or limit a woman's choice regarding care providers, including skilled midwives, and place of birth."

ACOG's own policy guidance of 2008 states that women should be entitled to decide where they want to give birth.

But it adds: "Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby."

The Lancet editorial argues that home birth should remain an option and a right for mothers, provided that they are aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions.

It says: "Home delivery is an option for mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies,provided they are advised of the risks involved, have one-to-one midwife care (that includes good resuscitation skills and accreditation by a local regulatory body), and live in a location that allows quick access to obstetric care.

"Women have the right to choose how and where to give birth, but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk."

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