Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Number and characteristics of women choosing homebirth in 2004

The US government is now keeping detailed statistics on birth attendant and place of delivery. The most recent set comes from 2004 and reveals some interesting facts about the number and characteristics of women choosing homebirth.

Although homebirth advocates are constantly touting the increasing popularity of homebirth, there is no evidence that homebirth is increasing in popularity. According to Births: Final Data for 2004, of 4,112,052 total births:

15,543 were planned homebirths with an attendant
0.3% of all births were planned homebirths

of 15,543 planned homebirths, attendants were
1972 physicians
3591 CNMs
9980 DEMs; DEMs attended 64% of planned homebirths (0.24% of all births)

This represents no change from 2002 when DEMs attended 0.24% of all births. So contrary to the assertions of homebirth advocates, homebirth with a DEM represents a tiny fraction of all births, less than 1/4 of 1 per cent.

Homebirth with a DEM has been and remains almost completely restricted to white women. Of the 9980 DEM attended births in 2004:
8874 white (88.9%)
119 black ( 1.2%)
623 Hisp. ( 6.2%)

In the US, homebirth has been and remains a fringe phenomenon mainly restricted to white women.

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