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Study finds link between home births and neonatal complications


Preventable birth injuries often present the most heart-breaking of medical malpractice cases. An injury during the delivery process can result in life-long, serious injuries to an infant. These types of injuries can happen at the most state-of-the-art Oregon medical facility, as well as during home births. However, Eugene families should be aware of the findings of a new study linking increased neonatal complications to homebirths.

A retrospective study of babies born in 2008 discovered the link to increased neonatal complications. Investigators from the Oregon Health and Science University and the University of California at San Francisco compared over 12,000 planned homebirths with around 2 million hospital births. They found homebirths nearly doubled the risk of a low Apgar score in newborns. The Apgar score is a quick evaluation of a newborn upon birth to determine his or her health. It takes into consideration items such as appearance, activity, pulse and respiration. An Apgar score of 7 or higher on the 10-point scale is considered normal. The study found homebirths doubled the risk of newborns having an Apgar score of 4 or lower.

Investigators also found infants born at homebirths were more than three times likely to experience neonatal seizures. In severe cases, these seizures can result in cerebral palsy, developmental disorders or death. The findings of the study are especially important due to the sharp increase in home births over the past years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homebirths increased 50% from 2004 to 2011. The study urges families to be aware of the potential risks associated with homebirths. Having an emergency plan of action in place and using a certified nurse-midwife are both ways to increase the safety of homebirths.

The serious injuries to newborns that can occur during both home and hospital births make it important for Oregon families to be aware of their legal rights. When an infant is hurt due to the negligence of his or her medical team, a malpractice suit can be a way to hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions. An experienced Oregon malpractice attorney can assist victims and their families in filing a successful case.

Source: Medical Daily, "Home Births Linked To Increased Neonatal Complications; Mothers Should Plan For Emergency Hospitalization," Matthew Mientka, Oct. 27, 2013

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