In 2003 the US standard birth certificate form was revised to include place of birth and attendant at birth. That makes it possible to compare neonatal death rates at home vs. in the hospital. The first data set (2003-2004) showed that homebirth had triple the rate of neonatal mortality as comparable risk hospital birth. The most recent data set shows was recently released by CDC Wonder and the results are appalling:
In 2007, American homebirth with a homebirth (non-CNM) midwife had a neonatal mortality rate 7.7 times higher than comparable risk hospital birth!
The table shows that the neonatal mortality rate for homebirths attended by an American homebirth midwives (CPM, LM) is 7.7 time higher than comparable risk hospital birth attended by a CNM (certified nurse midwife). This extraordinarily high death rate is all the more remarkable because it actually under-counts the homebirth death rate. That's because homebirth transfers ended up in the hospital MD group and were not counted in the homebirth group. The real number of homebirth deaths is almost certainly significantly higher.
No wonder the Midwives Alliance of North American (MANA) continues to hide their death rates. How many of the 24,000 babies in their database of outcomes from 2001-2008 died at the hands of homebirth midwives? They won't say, but the rate is probably comparable to, or perhaps even higher than this extraordinarily high rate.
Homebirth advocates having been crowing that the rate of homebirth has risen 20% from the early to late 2000's, but the death rate, which was already unacceptably high, appears to have risen, too.
Homebirth with an American homebirth midwife kills babies. There is simply no question about it. Even the Midwives Alliance of North America knows that this is true. It's time that American homebirth advocates stopped lying about the safety of homebirth and start doing something to reduce the number of preventable neonatal deaths.
This piece first appeared on The Skeptical OB in December 2011.