Neurological Disorders, Stillbirths Are Far More Prevalent, Study Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new study has concluded that babies born at home are considerably more likely to be stillborn, or end up suffering from lifelong disorders, compared with babies born in hospitals.

The study by New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center found that home births were 10 times more likely to be still births, and almost four times more likely to result in neonatal seizures or neurological problems, according to a news release.

The study was the largest of its kind, including data about 13 million U.S. births, the release said. Based on the results, researchers concluded that the risk is associated with the site of the birth, and not with the credentials of the person making the delivery.

Dr. Amos Grunebaum, chief of labor and delivery at the hospital, said in some cases, complications can occur that require immediate surgical intervention. At a hospital, all of the necessary personnel are immediately available to step in, he said.

“You have, within seconds, numerous people – including nurses, doctors, and pediatricians and obstetricians available to take care of both the mother and the newborn,” Gruenbaum told 1010 WINS. “At home, you only have one person, usually, that takes care of both the mother and the newborn.”

The authors of the study said obstetric practitioners are ethically obliged to inform parents of risks of a home birth. And if parents choose to go ahead with a home birth anyway, it could make for some awkward conversations when children with neurological disorders grow up, Gruenbaum said.

“To explain to your child at the end that the reason why the baby has this kind of severe neurologic complication is because the mother and father wanted things to be done with less intervention, when those all are available in the hospital, is very difficult,” he said.

The study results were compiled by analyzing birth certificate files from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2007 and 2010. Researchers looked at “Apgar score” screening tests that indicated still births, as well as records of seizures and neurological dysfunction.

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