KHN Morning Briefing

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Study Examines Risks Associated With Planned Home Births

The number of women who plan to give birth to infants at home or in birthing centers has increased dramatically.

The New York Times: As Home Births Grow In U.S., A New Study Examines The Risks
With a growing number of American women choosing to give birth at home or in birthing centers, debate is intensifying over an important question: How safe is it to have a baby outside a hospital? A study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine provides some of the clearest information on the subject to date. The study analyzed nearly 80,000 pregnancies in Oregon, and found that when women had planned out-of-hospital deliveries, the probability of the baby dying during the birth process or in the first month after — though slight — was 2.4 times as likely as women who had planned hospital deliveries. Out-of-hospital births also carried greater risk of neonatal seizures, and increased the chances that newborn babies would need ventilators or mothers would need blood transfusions. (Belluck, 12/30)

NPR: Giving Birth Outside A Hospital Is A Little Riskier For The Baby
Roughly 99 percent of American women give birth to their infants in a hospital. But the number of women delivering babies at home or in a birthing center has been increasing dramatically in recent years — up nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2009, for example. So scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University decided to try to get a better idea of how risky that is. The researchers took advantage of the fact that Oregon recently started requiring all birth certificates to list whether the mother had intended to give birth inside or outside a hospital. That designation helped researchers tease out births that were intended for home, but ended up in the hospital when something went awry. (Stein, 12/30)

Los Angeles Times: Planned Home Births Entail Small But Significantly Increased Risk Of Death, Study Says
Couples that plan to have their babies at home instead of in a hospital take on a slightly increased risk of serious complications for their newborns, including death, a new study shows. An analysis of births in Oregon finds that for every 1,000 deliveries intended to occur at home or in a residential-style birthing center, 3.9 end in perinatal death. That compares with 1.8 of every 1,000 births expected to take place in a hospital, according to a report in Thursday’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. (Kaplan, 12/30)

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