Number of Home Births Increasing in the U.S.
"Women may prefer a home over a hospital birth for a variety of reasons including a desire for a low intervention birth in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends," Marian MacDorman, of the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tells CNN. "Cultural or religious concerns, lack of transportation in rural areas and cost factors may also play a role as total costs for home births are about a third those for a hospital birth."
MacDorman tells the network home births in the United States are at their highest level since 1990.
She led a study that found the number of home births shot up 20 percent between 2004 and 2008. That's mostly due to a 94 percent increase in home births among white women.
MacDorman tells CNN the risks that go along with home births have also decreased in recent years.
"It might mean home birth midwives and practitioners are doing a better job of selecting low-risk women for home births," she tells the network.
Nonetheless, she adds, some women still need to go to hospitals -- especially when they are older than 40, heavier than 300 pounds or have high blood pressure or diabetes
CNN reports the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement in January that says the risks of planned home births are low, but home births are still two-to-three times more likely than hospital births to result in dead newborns.
"As physicians, we have an obligation to provide families with information about the risks, benefits, limitations and advantages concerning the different maternity care providers and birth settings," association President Richard Waldman tells CNN. "It's important to remember that home births don't always go well, and the risk is higher if they are attended by inadequately trained attendants or in poorly selected patients with serious high-risk medical conditions such as hypertension, breech presentation, or prior cesarean deliveries."
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