Home Births Are Riskier, But Perinatal Death Is Still Low

First Posted: Dec 31, 2015 04:49 PM EST

Some women are deciding to give birth at home instead of in a hospital, and though perinatal death risk is higher, statistics show that it is still low. 

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University found that overall risk of perinatal death was low--ending in 3.9 deaths per every 1,000 deliveries intended to occur in home or in a residential-style birthing facility, when compared to 1.8  per 1,000 births that took place in a hospital.

"While the overall risk for perinatal death was low in all settings, the stakes can be high," said Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University, in a news release. "As health care providers, we need to make sure women know what the trade-offs are so they can make an informed choice that reflects their birth preferences."

Today, an increasing number of women are choosing to have babies outside the hospital in order to prevent certain medical interventions, such as C-sections or chemical inductions. 

During their research, the study authors conducted a population-based survey of all births in Oregon--examining the highest out-of-hospital births in the United States from 2012 to 2013 and comparing healthy in-hospital and out-of-hospital births. 

The survey looked at close to 80,000 births planned for delivery in the hospital, as well as over 3,000 delivered outside a hospital as planned, as well as 2,000 at home and close to 600 planned out-of-hospital births that were later transferred to hospitals. 

Findings showed that the C-section rate in the hospital was at 24.7 percent when compared to 5.3 percent outside of the hospital. Mothers who planned to give birth outside of the hospital also had an increased risk for blood transfusions, as well as an overall decreased use of obstetric interventions, including C-section or induction, according to UPI

Women who are at increased risk of complications during their pregnancy may need to give birth in a hospital where they have faster access to more medical equipment and specialists. Furthermore, the study did not examine births involving twins, birth defects, breech or premature delivery, according to The New York Times

The study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine

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