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Quality assessment of home births in Denmark

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INTRODUCTION: The safety of home births has been widely debated. Observational studies examining maternal and neonatal outcomes of home births have become more frequent, and the quality of these studies has improved. The aim of the present study was to describe neonatal outcomes of home births compared with hospital births and to discuss which data are needed to evaluate the safety of home births.

METHODS: This was a register-based cohort study. Data on all births in Denmark (2003-2013) were collected from the Danish Medical Birth Registry (DMBR). The cohort included healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies and no medical interventions during delivery. A total of 6,395 home births and 266,604 hospital births were eligible for analysis. Comparative analyses were performed separately in nulliparous and multiparous women. The outcome measures were neonatal mortality and morbidity.

RESULTS: Frequencies of admission to a neonatal intensive care unit and treatment with continuous positive airway pressure were significantly lower in infants born at home than in infants born at a hospital. A slightly, but significantly increased rate of early neonatal death was found among infants delivered by nulliparous at home.

CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that home births in Denmark are characterized by a high level of safety owing to low rates of perinatal mortality and morbidity. Missing registration on intrapartum transfers and planned versus unplanned home births in the DMBR are, however, major limitations to the validity and utility of the reported results. Registration of these items of information is necessary to make reasonable assessments of home births in the future.

FUNDING: none.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: not relevant.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDanish Medical Journal
Volume64
Issue number5
ISSN1603-9629
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

    Research areas

  • Adult, Cohort Studies, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure/statistics & numerical data, Delivery Rooms, Denmark/epidemiology, Female, Home Childbirth/standards, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Male, Morbidity, Parity, Patient Admission/statistics & numerical data, Perinatal Mortality/trends, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Quality Assurance, Health Care, Registries, Safety, Young Adult

ID: 58457374