Women who give birth at home or in other non-hospital settings in Israel are three times more likely to encounter complications, and particularly run the risk of perinatal mortality, than women who have their babies in hospitals, according to new research presented by Prof. Eyal Sheiner and Dr. Tamar Weinstock of Ben Gurion University’s Faculty of Health Science, and Dr. Gil Gutvirtz, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer Sheva.
Presenting the findings at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s 39th Annual Pregnancy Meeting in Las Vegas this month, Sheiner analyzed the births of 3,580 women who delivered babies in non-hospital settings and compared them to some 240,000 women who gave birth at Soroka University Medical Center between 1991 and 2014.
The research found that 15 out of every 1,000 babies born in non-hospital settings are at risk of death, compared to five out of every 1,000 babies born in hospitals.
When accounting for variables, including the mother’s health, age, and ethnic background, the occurrence of a still-born baby remains significant with a risk 2.6 times higher for mortality of the newborn as compared with patients who delivered in the hospital.
“This study matches the findings of larger studies conducted in the United States and confirmed our hypothesis that childbirth in non-hospital settings is far more dangerous than in hospitals,” Sheiner said. “There is no question that a hospital provides the most secure environment to give birth, both for mothers and their babies. Even with the advances of modern medicine, childbirth is still traumatic for both the mother and child and it is critical to be prepared for any scenario.”
“Perhaps once-upon-a-time the difference between home and hospital for giving birth was less important because of our ancestors’ limited understanding of medicine, but today there is a quantum difference. Tracking both the mother’s and baby’s progress, heart rate, blood pressure and overall health in real time and immediate access to operating theaters and emergency treatment in the event of a problem gives the medical team the best chance to navigate the difficult situation effectively,” he added.