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13-09-2009 | Gynaecology | Article

Perinatal risks no greater with planned home than planned hospital birth


Journal abstract

MedWire News: Women who have a planned home birth attended by a midwife are no more likely to experience infant death than those who have a planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician, Canadian investigators have discovered.

Patricia Janssen, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues studied the outcomes of 2889 planned home births, 4752 hospital births attended by the same group of midwives, and 5331 hospital births attended by a physician between 2000 and 2004.

The rate of perinatal death per 1000 births was 0.35 for planned home births, compared with 0.57 and 0.64 for hospital births attended by a midwife or physician, respectively. There were no deaths between 8 and 28 days of life.

Women with planned home birth were significantly less likely than those giving birth at hospital with a midwife or physician to have electronic fetal monitoring, assisted vaginal delivery, third- or fourth-degree perineal tear, or postpartum hemorrhage.

Newborns were also significantly less likely to require resuscitation at birth or oxygen therapy beyond 24 hours, have meconium aspiration, and be admitted or readmitted to hospital if they had planned home birth versus midwife- or physician-attended hospital birth.

The researchers say: “Our data indicate that screening for eligibility by registered midwives can safely support a policy of choice of birth setting.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Liam Davenport