Friday, December 21, 2007

Perinatal mortality: acknowledgement and denial

One of the more egregious claims of homebirth advocates is that infant mortality rates show that the US does not provide good obstetric care. Of course, infant mortality is the wrong statistic. Perinatal mortality is the correct statistic and the US has one of the lowest perinatal mortality rates in the world.

Evidently, word is getting around. Homebirth advocates are often genuinely shocked to learn the truth. They did not understand that infant mortality was the wrong statistic, and they did not understand that the US has excellent perinatal mortality rates.

Kneelingwoman, on her new blog Close to the Root, acknowledges the truth:
... WHO is that Dr. Amy person anyway? She's more than welcome but I want to reiterate that I came here with the sole intention and objective to have a creative dialogue about how to create a maternity care system that works for everyone. I am not here to duck a verbal fist fight or a "statistics war" ... Dr. Amy, by the way, is quite correct on that score; I have long been very annoyed with the homebirth community's mangling of stats and of the semantic messing around that goes on....we are WRONG to be quoting numbers about infant mortality; that's a different animal altogether. It IS perinatal mortality that tells the tale; those are the numbers that represent outcomes for neonates and the early newborn period and, actually, the U.S. scores very high...
Most homebirth advocates simply resort to denial. On MDC, a poster asked:
I somehow got onto that Dr. Amy's site,.. she's wildly anti-homebirth and very rabid... [S]he said that infant mortality rate isn't a good indicator of how we are doing as a country because it includes deaths from birth to a year. She said we should look at perinatal mortality and US has some of the best rates in the world...
Someone responded with the data from the WHO 2006 report on perinatal mortality, which confirms my claim. Then those in denial went to work:
"Yes...if we go by this rate alone we can say we're "among the best", but look who beat us out!"

"Just wanted to put out there that not all sources of 'information' are actually sources of 'clean, honest information'. There are people who shamelessly distort real information in the pursuit of persuading others to their extreme point of view,.."

"... Stay away, ignore it, it really is just a bunch of intense negativity with no real truth involved (because once you've distorted things enough, it loses all relationship to the truth even if it was originally based upon actual facts)..."
Most homebirth advocates do not understand that a fundamental claim of homebirth advocacy is simply untrue. When confronted with the truth, most homebirth advocates simply choose to ignore it.


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