(Perinatal death associated with planned home birth in Australia: population based study)
In most industrialised countries, only women at low risk of complications give birth at home and the outcomes often compare favourably with hospital births. However, in this week's BMJ Hilda Bastian a consumer advocate along with researchers from Australia's National Perinatal Statistics Unit, show concern about the current trend in some places for women at high risk to give birth at home. Based on death rates of babies born after planned home births in Australia, the authors found that the death rate was higher than for comparable hospital births and much higher than home births in other countries.
The authors suggest that the largest contributors to the excess deaths were the underestimation of the risks associated with late babies, twins and breech births as well as a lack of response to fetal distress. Thus they conclude that high risk home birth is inadvisable and experimental.
Hilda Bastian, Consumer Advocate, Blackwood, Australia