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Study compares outcomes of home births and hospital births

Expectant parents in New York want to plan the perfect birth. Home birth, although not prevalent in the United States, does exist as an option for women with low-risk pregnancies. To examine the safety of home birth, Canadian researchers compared outcomes for women without any pregnancy risk factors who gave birth at home or in a hospital. They found only small differences between the two settings and declared home birth as safe as hospital birth for healthy women.

For example, severe problems like stillbirth or newborn death occurred at close to the same rate for home births as hospital births. Among home births, 1.15 per 1,000 births experienced loss of the child. At the hospital, 0.94 births per 1,000 ended in stillbirth or newborn death.

The researchers studied the results of approximately 11,000 planned home births and 11,000 hospital births. They excluded women with pregnancy complications such as heart conditions, type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes, eclampsia and HIV. Home births required emergency services in 8 percent of cases compared to less than 2 percent of hospital births. Women in the hospital, however, underwent more birth interventions like C-section and assisted vaginal delivery.

In either birth setting, women depend on the decisions of their obstetricians and midwives. When medical errors result in birth injuries, then a medical malpractice suit might be a viable option. Costs for long-term disabilities that result from a lack of oxygen during delivery or other complications could last throughout the child's life. A person coping with this type of birth outcome might want to work with an attorney who has experience with these types of matters in order to determine the remedies that are available.

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