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Pediatricians offer new policy on home birth standards

When it comes to planned home deliveries, the American Academy of Pediatrics has decided that mothers and infants should receive the same standard of care as hospital births. The AAP announced its new policy this month, which it said is “intended to help pediatricians provide supportive, informed counsel to women considering home birth.”

The academy – along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – has determined that births at hospitals or free-standing birthing centers is a safer option for mothers and infants, but they said they recognize that expectant parents should have the ability to make a medically-informed choice about birthing options.

Although less than 1 percent of births occur in the home setting, there has been a rise nationally in planned at-home births. Between 2004 and 2009, the proportion of planned at-home deliveries increased by 29 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although some mothers see a home birth as a more comfortable and natural option, they are two to three times more likely to result in neonatal death, according to a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in September 2010. The report showed that planned-at home births resulted in about 1 additional infant death per 1,000 births. There was no noted difference in maternal death rates.

The newly-announced policy stresses the importance of having a professional at the delivery who can revive a baby if a planned home birth goes awry. The academy also said that the same standards should be used for caring for healthy newborns after a home birth as caring for a healthy newborn after a hospital birth, including a detailed physical examination and a comprehensive risk assessment.

Source:, “Pediatricians offer newborn care standards for home births,” Kevin B. O’Reilly, May 13, 2013