Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Confusion about intrapartum death rates

There seems to be some effort to sow confusion about the intrapartum death rate in order to avoid the inescapable conclusion that homebirth is not as safe as hospital birth. We already know that more babies die as a result of homebirth. The intrapartum death rate shows that they die due to inappropriate care in labor, as opposed to other factors that may be unrelated to homebirth.

A higher intrapartum death rate does NOT mean that the same number of babies die in both groups, but the proportions are simply different from hospital birth. It means that in the homebirth group more babies die as a direct result of care than in the hospital group. Remember, virtually every study of homebirth already shows that a greater number of babies die at home than in the hospital. The fact that they die during labor means that the deaths are due to care in labor not other variable like a higher rate of anomalies.

Bottom line: More babies in total die at home birth than at hospital birth. Furthermore, the babies who die at home are more likely to die in labor rather than from other causes that are unrelated to homebirth.


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