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Home births as safe as going to hospital

15th April 2009

UK obstetricians have welcomed a study that has found giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital for low-risk women.

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The study, the largest of its kind, was carried out in the Netherlands which has a high rate of home births.

Published in the journal BJOG, it found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births.

The study follows evidence that the Netherlands has one of the highest rates in Europe of babies dying during or soon after birth, with fears that home births were a factor.

However, the study dispelled this.

Professor Simone Buitendijk of the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research said: "We found that for low-risk mothers at the start of their labour it is just as safe to deliver at home with a midwife as it is in hospital with a midwife."

In the UK, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that of all births in England and Wales in 2006, just 2.7% were at home.

The Royal College of Midwives said the study was "a major step forward" but for more home births in the UK, there needed to be a "seismic shift" in the way maternity services were organised.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said it supported home births in cases of low-risk pregnancies provided the appropriate infrastructures and resources were present to support such a system.

The Department of Health has set giving more women opportunity to choose a home birth as a target for 2009/10.

 

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