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Tuesday 25th October 2016

The risks of home births

2nd April 2008

Researchers have claimed that there may be serious risks for babies when mothers who choose a home birth are transferred to hospital.


The conclusion was reached by a team at the National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health after looking at data on all home births in England and Wales between 1994 and 2003.

Writing in the journal BJOG, the team said that while the death rate for births at home was low, that changed significantly when circumstance saw women transferred to hospital.

However, the National Childbirth Trust has criticised the findings saying the study was seriously flawed because it should have looked at the number of babies who died in hospital after their mothers developed complications.

The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the research but also felt it was inconclusive.

The study broke the births down into three sub-sections: planned home births, unplanned home births and a “transferred group? where women who had planned a homebirth ended up giving birth in hospital.

The death rate among planned home births was lower than the average for all births taken together but when complications did arise for women in this group and they needed to be transferred to hospital, her risk of losing her baby was nearly eight times higher than the national average.

BJOG editor Professor Philip Steer said: “Essentially women who opt for a home birth face either a very successful, satisfying outcome, or a potentially disastrous one - there isn’t the greyer area that you see with hospital births.?

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