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New Home Birth Study in the News

Eugene Declercq has to be one of my favorite professionals who is also an advocate for mothers in the childbirth community.  He is professor of Community Health Science at Boston University, and has helped with some amazing research over the years, and now is helping shed some more light onto the controversial topic of home birth with a new study.

The new study which is published in the March edition of the journal birth explains the clear differences in ethnic backgrounds, and home birth, which is helping to break down some misconceptions about home birth.

The new research shows that most home births to Hispanic and non-Hispanic African American women were delivered by physicians or “other” attendants, suggesting that most of these births may be “unplanned, emergency situations.”  Which certainly is something we would need to take into consideration when looking at the statistics surrounding home birth.

From a publication about the study:

“These unplanned home births may represent a previously unidentified high-risk group, and may suggest, in some cases, a lack of access to appropriate intrapartum care,” the study says. “Future studies of home birth need to include both population characteristics (e.g., race and ethnicity) and qualitative factors (e.g., planning status and motivation), to further the understanding of this somewhat rare but important phenomenon.”

The authors looked at data on births from 1990 to 2006, when both the number and percentage of home births increased for non-Hispanic white women, but declined for all other race and ethnic groups. In 1990, there were 27,678 home births in the U.S., representing 0.67 percent of all births in that year. Both the number and percentage of births occurring at home declined gradually from 1990 to 2004. But in 2005, the percent of home births increased to 0.59 percent — growth that was sustained the following year.

Also showing that by 2006 non-Hispanic white women were three to four times more likely to have a planned home birth.  Certainly interesting when we take into consideration things like social status, prenatal care, and the drastic difference we can see in these categories when it comes to published maternal mortality rates, even in hospital births.

Other authors of the study include:

Marian MacDorman, a statistician in the Reproductive Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Fay Menacker, a senior nurse in Maternal and Child Health, Social and Scientific Systems, Inc., in Maryland.

photo: Boston University

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