Women must not choose to give birth in their homes, warns a leading medical journal, after a recent study brought out the fact that home births were three times riskier than hospital births.
Doctors have told the Lancet that pregnant women had the right to choose how and where to give birth - but the rights of their unborn child must always take priority.
The editorial said that findings reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 'provides the strongest evidence so far that home birth can, after all, be harmful to newborn babies'.
The study found that babies born at home were far more likely to die from heart and breathing problems, which could be because they are not properly monitored for signs of distress or treated in time in an emergency.
The research covered 549,607 births and showed the average mortality rate of babies born in hospital was 0.3 per 1,000 births, but this rose to one per 1,000 births for those born at home, reports The Daily Mail.
"Women have the right to choose how and where to give birth, but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk," an editorial in The Lancet said.
"Home delivery is an option for mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, provided they are advised of the risks involved, have one-to-one midwife care that includes good resuscitation skills and accreditation by a local regulatory body, and live in a location that allows quick access to obstetric care.
"Hospital delivery should be the preferred method of delivery for high-risk pregnancies, even though it is not without risks," the editorial added.