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Home births more risky than hospital deliveries

Babies born at home are more likely to lack pulse after five minutes

12:30pm, September 20, 2013
HOME BIRTH, STATE BY STATE This map shows home births are more common in the northwestern U.S. than in southeastern states.

The risks attached to giving birth in the home, even with a midwife present, are greater than in the hospital, an analysis of U.S. birth records suggests. Babies born at home are 10 times more likely to lack a pulse and be unresponsive when they are five minutes old.

Despite the increase, the overall risk of such a dire condition was low regardless of birth location, researchers report in the October American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Of every 1,000 babies born at home with a midwife attending, 1.6 lacked a pulse and weren’t breathing five minutes after birth, the researchers found. For hospital births with a doctor, the rate was 0.16 per 1,000 infants.

“It’s a very low occurrence rate,” says Michael Malloy, a neonatologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, who wasn’t part of the study. “I’m not a great advocate of

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