The debate over whether to give birth at home or in a hospital just got thornier.

New research indicates that the risk of death for the baby was twice as high when mothers planned to deliver outside a hospital. That being said, the overall risk still is rather low, according to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. And there were health benefits to the mothers who gave birth at home.

While the overwhelming majority of American women plan to deliver their babies at a hospital, home births have become increasingly popular. In 2012, the most recent year in which national birth numbers were available, nearly 54,000 babies were born at home — the most home births since 1975.

For the study comparing the safety of home vs. hospital births, scientists from Oregon Health and Science University looked at more than 75,000 low-risk births in that state in 2012 and 2013.

Out of every 1,000 babies whose mothers planned to deliver at home or at a birthing center, 3.9 died just before, during or in the month after labor, the study found. In comparison, only 1.8 out of every 1,000 babies died when a hospital birth was planned.

On the other hand, mothers delivering at home had fewer Caesarean procedures and were much less likely to use labor-inducing drugs or forceps to aid the birth.

Let the delivery deliberations continue.


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