"More women in well-resourced countries are choosing birth at home, but concerns have persisted about their safety," said Eileen Hutton, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster, founding director of the McMaster Midwifery Research Centre and first author of the paper.
‘Risk of perinatal and neonatal death was not different when birth was intended at home or in the hospital.
"This research clearly demonstrates the risk is no different when the birth is intended to be at home or in the hospital."
The study examined the safety of the place of birth by reporting on the risk of death at the time of delivery or within the first four weeks and found no clinically important or statistically different risk between home and hospital groups.
The study, which is the first systematic review and meta-analyses to use a previously published, peer-reviewed protocol for the research, used data from 21 studies published since 1990 comparing home and hospital birth outcomes in Sweden, New Zealand, England, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Canada and the U.S. Outcomes from approximately 500,000 intended home births were compared to similar numbers of births intended to occur in hospital in these eight countries.
"Our research provides much-needed information to policymakers, care providers, and women and their families when planning for birth," said Hutton.