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Call for clearer warning over health risks of home births

Doctors and academics are calling for more awareness around the health risks of a home birth, including the "silent tragedy" of disability for babies. Experts warned not enough was being said about the chance of oxygen starvation during birth.

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Home births 'may expose' baby to 'unreasonable risk'

Couples who chose to have their baby at home instead of a hospital "may expose the future child to unreasonable risk" of severe disability, experts have said.

Oxford University's Professor Julian Savulescu, and Melbourne University's obstetrician and gynaecologist Associate Professor Lachlan de Crespigny, said when problems occur at home there can be a delay in transferring women to hospital:

Delay in transferring to a tertiary hospital may result in permanent severe disability that will persist for the rest of that person's life.

Vital delays are inevitable in some cases. These can lead to disability, which was avoidable if the delivery had occurred in hospital.

Labour and delivery is a time of high risk, and home birth may expose the future child to unreasonable risk of potentially life-changing disability for benefits that may be comparatively small.

Home birth appears to be a risk factor for the future should be discouraged, pending further research.

– Professor Julian Savulescu and Associate Professor Lachlan de Crespigny

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