In a new statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the group urged parents to carefully consider the risks and benefits before choosing to give birth at home. An earlier study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology had found that fatal birth injuries were two-to-three times more likely during planned home births than when births occurred in hospitals or birthing centers.
The pediatricians' group issued its statement for two reasons. First, while the number of home births in the U.S. is currently quite low -- fewer than 1 percent of births -- its popularity is rising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of planned home births grew by 29 percent between 2004 and 2009, with their greatest popularity among white women who had given birth before. The choice was most common in the Pacific Northwest.
The second reason is that a planned home birth is, indeed, a choice. A similar policy statement in Feb. 2011 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists was taken by some women as an edict. Instead of providing women with the information they need to make an informed decision, some felt, the organization simply wished to prohibit the practice.