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The Risks of Home Birth

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By Robert Geimer

As more women choose to deliver their babies at home, many to wonder whether delivering at home is as safe as delivering in the hospital.  We now have some data.  According to a special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a baby dying was 3.9 per 1,000 births for deliveries at home or at birth centers, versus 1.8 deaths per 1,000 births in hospitals.  These data would seem to confirm the idea that when complications occur, it takes trained medical personnel and the best equipment to promptly address such complications.  However, hospital personnel still need to be vigilant and responsive to avoid the mistakes and delays that can cause devastating outcomes.  A good obstetrician with a well-trained labor and delivery staff and the best equipment seems to provide the best chance of delivering a healthy baby.

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