London: Home birth carries a higher risk for the babies of first-time mothers, a new study has found.
According to the study of almost 65,000 births in England, it was found that the chance of harm to the baby is still under 1 percent.
The Birthplace study is the largest carried out into the safety of different maternity settings, comparing births at home, in midwife-led units attached to hospitals, those that are stand-alone and doctor-led hospital units.
All the women who were followed for the study had healthy pregnancies and began labour with no known risk factors.
The study found that, overall, birth is very safe wherever it happens, and that the rates of complications, including stillbirth or other problems affecting the baby, was 5.3 per 1,000 births in hospital compared with 9.3 per 1,000 home births.
Professor Peter Brocklehurst, who led the research, said there were clear differences between women having their first baby and those having subsequent children.
“The risk of an adverse outcome for a baby are higher for a woman planning her first baby at home than in all of the other settings, but there was no difference between the midwife and hospital obstetric units,” the BBC quoted Brocklehurst as saying.
About 45 percent of women planning to have their first baby at home were transferred during labour, although this was mainly because of delays in giving birth and the need for an epidural pain-relief injection, rather than because the baby was in distress.
The transfer itself was not thought to be responsible for the difference because there was no raised risk for women moved from stand-alone midwife units to hospital during labour.
The study has been published in the British Medical Journal.