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Midwifery. 1994 Sep;10(3):125-35.

A matched cohort study of planned home and hospital births in Western Australia 1981-1987.

Erratum in

  • Midwifery 1995 Jun;11(2):99.



to evaluate practice comparing planned home birth with planned hospital birth


a retrospective analysis of a cohort who had planned to have a home birth compared with a matched hospital birth group


Western Australia (WA) PARTICIPANTS: all women (N = 976) who 'booked' to have a home birth 1981-1987 and 2928 matched women who had a planned hospital birth (singleton births only).


women in the home birth group had a longer labour, were less likely to have had labour induced or to have had any sort of operative delivery. They were less likely overall to have had complications of labour, but more likely to have had a postpartum haemorrhage and more likely to have had a retained placenta. Babies in the home birth group were heavier and more likely to be post-term. They were less likely to have had an Apgar score below 8 at 5 minutes, to have taken more than 1 minute to establish respiration or to have received resuscitation. The crude odds ratio for planned home births for perinatal mortality was 1.25 (95% CI 0.44-3.55). Postneonatal mortality was more common in the hospital group. Planned home births were generally associated with less intervention than hospital births and with less maternal and neonatal morbidity, with the exception of third stage complications. Although not significant, the increase in perinatal mortality has been observed in other Australian studies of home births and requires continuing evaluation.


Planned home births in WA appear to be associated with less overall maternal and neonatal morbidity and less intervention than hospital births.


whether these observed differences in intervention and morbidity have any relationship to the small, non-significant increase in perinatal mortality could not be determined in this study. Continuing evaluation of home birth practice and outcome is essential.

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