International study claims home births are as safe as hospital births

A sizeable international study led by McMaster University claims that home births are just as safe as hospital births.

The study found that low-risk pregnant women who want to give birth at home have no increased chance of the baby's perinatal or neonatal death compared to other low-risk women who give birth in hospital.

The interesting results have been published in The Lancet's EClinicalMedicine journal, with the researchers examining the safety of place of birth by reporting on the risk of death at the time of birth within the first four weeks.

Scientists found no clinically important or statistically different risk between giving birth at home versus giving birth in hospital.

Eileen Hutton, Professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at McMaster University and first author of the paper, commented on the findings;

"More women in well-resourced countries are choosing birth at home, but concerns have persisted about their safety. This research clearly demonstrates the risk is no different when the birth is intended to be at home or in hospital."

The study used data from 21 studies published since 1990 which compared home birth and hospital birth outcomes in countries like Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Australia, the US, England and the Netherlands.

Outcomes from around 500,000 intended home births were compared to similar numbers of hospital births in eight countries. There was no difference in infant death rates, according to the analysis of a million cases.

"Our research provides much-needed information to policy makers, care providers and women and their families when planning for birth," said Hutton.

Home birth rates have dipped amid safety fears, especially for first-time mothers. Only around two percent of births occur at home in the UK.

The results of the study should offer some reassurance for mums who are worried about where to give birth.

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