Misleading home birth headline

Yet another scary press release regarding home birth has come out today in advance of research which is set to be published in the upcoming issue of AJOG.  We’ve already seen in the Wax report how relying on birth certificate data can mar research, as the intended place of delivery is often not captured on a birth certificate.  Was the home birth planned with a skilled attendant present, or was it an extramural delivery (i.e. an unintentional home birth), which is more likely to lead to such scary “statistics”?  The press release also implies that “babies born at home are roughly 10 times as likely to be stillborn and almost four times as likely to have neonatal seizures or serious neurologic dysfunction when compared to babies born in hospitals”, never mind the fact that the soon to be published research looked at 5 minute Apgar scores, rather than the rate or cause of the stillbirths.  The authors of the study do concede that the stillbirths (associated with 5 minute Apgar scores of 0) could have been caused by factors OTHER than the place of delivery, such as undiagnosed stillbirths in the third trimester (intrauterine demise) or congenital anomalies, but that certainly won’t stop them from putting out a misleading press release nonetheless.  Wendy Gordon over on the MANA blog has already fired out an excellent response to this which is well worth reading, if you’re interested in understanding the truth behind the headline hyperbole.

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