Giving birth at home may increase the risk of stillbirth, finds new study

06 March 2019 - 15:24 By AFP Relaxnews
The risk of a giving birth to a stillborn infant was 2.6 times higher for women who delivered in a non-hospital setting compared with patients who delivered in hospitals.
The risk of a giving birth to a stillborn infant was 2.6 times higher for women who delivered in a non-hospital setting compared with patients who delivered in hospitals.
Image: iStock / NataliaDeriabina

New Israeli research has found that giving birth at home could pose a bigger danger to infants than giving birth in a hospital, increasing the risk of complications and stillbirth.

Carried out by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center, the new study compared 3,580 women who gave birth in non-hospital settings in Israel to around 240,000 women who gave birth at Soroka between 1991 and 2014.

The findings, presented in Las Vegas at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's 39th Annual Pregnancy Meeting in February, showed that after taking into account factors such as ethnic background and the mother's health, age, smoking status and other health habits, the risk of a giving birth to a stillborn infant was significantly higher - 2.6 times - for women who delivered in a non-hospital setting compared with patients who delivered in hospitals.

Approximately 15 out of every 1,000 babies born in non-hospital settings are at risk of death

"Approximately 15 out of every 1,000 babies born in non-hospital settings are at risk of death, compared to only five out of every 1,000 babies born in hospitals," commented researcher Professor Eyal Sheiner, MD.

"This study matches the findings of larger studies conducted in the United States and confirmed our hypothesis that childbirth in non-hospital settings is far more dangerous than in hospitals," said Sheiner.

"There is no question that a hospital provides the most secure environment to give birth, both for mothers and their babies. Even with the advances in modern medicine, childbirth is still traumatic for both the mother and child and it is critical to be prepared for any scenario."

"Once-upon-a-time, the difference between home and hospital for giving birth was less important because of our ancestors' limited understanding of medicine, but today there is a quantum difference," he added.

"Tracking both the mother's and baby's progress, and vital signs in real time as well as immediate access to emergency treatment and operating rooms gives the medical team a far better chance to effectively navigate a difficult birth situation."