Friday, January 26, 2007

Homebirth activist says homebirth has an excess rate of neonatal death

A noted homebirth advocate has concluded that homebirth has an excess risk of perinatal death compared to hospital birth. Let's look at this woman's qualifications and her comments about her research before I tell you who she is and cite her paper, published in the British Medical Journal.

Her commitment to homebirth advocacy includes:
gave birth to her own children at home

leader of a major homebirth advocacy group (prior to engaging in research)

became active in consumer affairs because of her experience with the medical profession

member of the Cochrane Review board.
Let me quote something that she wrote about her own work:
The comparison of home and hospital births showed categorically that the rate of death for normally formed, reasonably sized babies was significantly higher in home births ... The principal source of this excessive rate of death was a very high rate of intrapartum deaths. Such a high rate of death in labor must always raise questions about the adequacy of care around birth. The conclusions of the study are not at all surprising. With many high risk home births, and many long delays to transfer (or no transfer at all) after fetal distress, babies needing intervention to survive were inevitably dying.

It is true that these outcomes may not reflect current practice. While death rates in hospital are decreasing, in home births they have actually increased.
Before I reveal who she is, I'm curious about whether you would give greater attention and consideration to her conclusions because she was a homebirth advocate and gave birth to her children at home. By the way, she is not an obscure person. Anyone who has ever read about homebirth will know who she is.


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