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Home Births Present Increased Risks, According to Study

An increasing number of women are opting to deliver their newborns in the comfort of their own home as opposed to a hospital setting. Delivering a child at home affords the mother the opportunity to deliver her child in a comfortable environment surrounded by the individuals with whom she chooses to share the experience. Home births are not without their drawbacks, however; a study conducted in 2014 found that the risk of a child dying during a home birth was four times greater than the risk of a newborn dying during delivery at a hospital.

The Key Factor is the Environment

The study found that the birthing environment – and not the skill or lack thereof of any member of the birthing team – was key in explaining the difference in mortality rates between children born at home and children born at the hospital. Simply speaking, hospitals generally have the equipment and staff necessary to address any complications that may arise during the delivery whereas most home births do not. If the mother or child encounter problems during the delivery, emergency responders may take too long to arrive to be of assistance.

Some Birth-Related Problems and Injuries Can Be Adequately Addressed in a Hospital

According to the study, one of the most common birth complications encountered is stillbirth – a newborn that is not breathing when he or she is delivered. Newborns who are delivered stillborn may be able to be resuscitated and saved if they receive immediate medical care. Hospitals are generally better able to respond to emergency circumstances such as this as opposed to a home setting.

Is a Home Birth Really More Dangerous than a Hospital Birth?

Opponents of the study claim that the data is too flawed to provide accurate and reliable conclusions regarding the safety of a home birth. Opponents claim that the presence and assistance of a skilled midwife can eliminate many of the alleged problems of a home birth. Proponents of the study reassert that it is the environment in which the child is born – and not necessarily the skill of the midwife – that leads to problems and complications in home births. In other words, proponents of the study claim that the skill of a midwife assisting a mother with a home birth is irrelevant when specialized drugs and/or medical devices are needed to address a complication but are not available.

Injured By a Midwife? You Need Legal Representation from Our Firm

Even if home births are more dangerous or risky than hospital births, midwives and other medical professionals who are present to assist a mother with a home birth must still render reasonable care and treatment considering the midwife’s education, background, and skill. A midwife who unreasonably causes or contributes to the occurrence of a birth-related injury that could have been avoided may be liable to the child’s family for damages. If you or a loved one has a child that was injured during a home birth, contact the birth injury law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. for assistance right away. You can reach our Philadelphia or New Jersey office by calling (215) 567-3500 or contacting us through our website.

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