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Home Births Jump 20 Percent in 4 Years: U.S. Report
Date:5/20/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- The number of home births in the United States has jumped 20 percent in recent years, a new government study shows.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated data from birth certificates for more than 4 million live births registered in the United States in 2008 and in previous years.

The investigators found that 28,357 babies were born at home in 2008, representing 0.67 percent of total births. That was the highest proportion of home births since 1990.

"The percentage of home births in the U.S. declined slowly from 1990-2004, so the recent increase is a surprise in that it reverses a longstanding trend," said Marian MacDorman, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC.

She called the increase "pretty large" for a four-year period.

The trend was driven mainly by a 28 percent spike in home births by non-Hispanic white women, the researchers found. For this group, more than 1 percent of all births now occur at home.

The home births are typically attended by a certified nurse-midwife, a certified midwife or a non-certified midwife. Less often, a physician is present, the report indicated.

The risk profile for home births has declined, the study authors noted. They saw declines in the percentage of babies born at home who are delivered early or at low birth weight or born to teen or unmarried mothers.

The percentage of home births varies among states, with Montana having the highest, at 2.18 percent. Twenty-seven states had significant increases in the percentage of home births between 2004 and 2008.

Women may prefer a home birth for many reasons, including a desire for a "low-intervention" birth, the authors noted in the report. Cost may also weigh in, with home births typically costing one-third of what hospital births do.
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