Home births rise despite higher neonatal mortality rate

Women seeking to avoid medical interventions and gain control of the birth process are increasingly choosing to deliver their babies at home, but medical experts warn that the option is accompanied by elevated neonatal mortality, even in low-risk births.

The news came shortly after an Australian home-birth advocate died following the delivery of her child at home, shedding a grave light on women’s choices about where to give birth.

Births taking place at home grew by 28% between 2004 and 2009, with nearly 30,000 home deliveries happening in 2009. Home births, which were 0.56% of all U.S. deliveries in 2004, accounted for 0.72% of all deliveries in 2009. That is the highest rate since at least 1990, when birth certificates were changed to allow additional detail about out-of-hospital births, said a data brief published in January by the National Center for Health Statistics.

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