Beyond the Abstract of the New South Australian Home Birth Study
The media coverage of the new study Planned home and hospital births in South Australia, 1991-2006: differences in outcomes has begun. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Govt urged to tighten homebirth laws
The federal government has been urged to push on with its plans to tighten homebirth laws, after a new study found the practice to be more risky than conventional hospital deliveries.
A comparison of South Australian births between 1991 and 2006 found the perinatal mortality rates of homebirth and hospital births to be similar.
However, babies were seven times more likely to die from complications during a homebirth than a planned hospital delivery.
They were also 27 times more likely to suffer asphyxiation during labour, according to the study published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.
The Australian Medical Association, which is opposed to homebirthing, says the study throws more weight behind the government’s planned overhaul of maternity care.
“The safety of mothers and babies must come first in any debate about maternity care,” AMA president Andrew Pesce said in a statement. Read more…
But what lies beyond the study’s abstract? Please read Lauredhel’s summary on Hoyden About Town. In a nutshell:
There was no such scrutiny of the 2440 perinatal deaths in the planned hospital birth group, except to say that 87 of them were attributed to intrapartum asphyxia (lack of oxygen supply to the fetus in labour). Of the three deaths attributed to intrapartum asphyxia in the planned home birth group, two occurred in hospital. One at home. One.
The study’s authors write in the discussion:
Although it is not anticipated that large numbers of women will opt for home birth, women’s autonomy in choosing reproductive behaviour is a fundamental human right enshrined in Australian law. Respecting their choice and achieving the best out come for all concerned is likely to remain a challenge that will require more light and less heat than it has received thus far.