OBJECTIVE: The purpose of our study was to compare the intrapartum and early neonatal mortality rate of planned home birth with planned hospital birth in community midwife-led deliveries after case mix adjustment.
METHODS: The perinatal outcome of 679,952 low-risk women was obtained from the Netherlands Perinatal Registry (2000–2007). This group represents all women who had a choice between home and hospital birth. Two different analyses were performed: natural prospective approach (intention-to-treat–like analysis) and perfect guideline approach (per-protocol–like analysis). Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were calculated. Case mix was based on the presence of at least one of the following: congenital abnormalities, small for gestational age, preterm birth, or low Apgar score. We also investigated the potential risk role of intended place of birth. Multivariate stepwise logistic regression was used to investigate the potential risk role of intended place of birth.
RESULTS: Intrapartum and neonatal death at 0–7 days was observed in 0.15% of planned home compared with 0.18% in planned hospital births (crude relative risk 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71–0.91). After case mix adjustment, the relation is reversed, showing nonsignificant increased mortality risk of home birth (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.91–1.21). In certain subgroups, additional mortality may arise at home if risk conditions emerge at birth (up to 20% increase).
CONCLUSION: Home birth, under routine conditions, is generally not associated with increased intrapartum and early neonatal death, yet in subgroups, additional risk cannot be excluded.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II