At-home births popular in Utah

Between two and three percent of all Utah births are home births.

Between two and three percent of all Utah births are home births.

At-home births are becoming increasingly popular with American woman, especially white women, according to a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report also showed that Utah is among the states leading this surge in popularity. Utah is the seventh-highest state in out-of-hospital births.

A total of 35,184 babies were born at home in 2012 to mothers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Another 15,577 babies were born at birthing centers. Both trends have been rising since 2004. Altogether, 1.36 % of American babies born in 2012 began life outside of a hospital, the highest out-of-hospital birth rate since 1975.

White mothers are driving the increasing popularity, according to the report. They accounted for 89% of the growth in out-of-hospital births. White women were four times more likely than mothers of other racial groups to give births outside of a hospital. One in 49 white moms delivered outside of a hospital. The rate was around 1 in 200 for Hispanic, black and Asian mothers.

Experts believe many white women are questioning the high rates of cesarean sections in hospitals. Many think home births with midwives are a better choice.

“They are having conversations about it and influencing each other,” said T.J. Mathews, one of the authors of the news report.

However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns against such home births.

“Women inquiring about planned home birth should be informed that although the absolute risk may be low, planned home birth is associated with a twofold to threefold increased risk of neonatal death when compared with planned hospital birth,” the ACOG said in an official statement.

Non-hospital births were most common in the Pacific Northwest in 2012. Perhaps due to its large remote areas, Alaska had the highest rate at 6%. Other leading states were Montana (3.9%), Oregon (3.8%), Washington (3.4%), Idaho (3.4%), Pennsylvania (3.1%) and Utah (2.89%).

States in the southeast tended to have the lowest out-of-hospital birth rate, including Louisiana (0.41%), Alabama (.39%), Mississippi (0.38%). The nation’s lowest rate was Rhode Island (0.33%).



Ron Bennett is a recently retired university journalism professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he taught journalistic writing, editing and mass media classes. He received the Distinguished Faculty award at BYU-I in 2012, and he was honored by the College Media Advisers Association in 2002 with the Distinguished Newspaper Adviser's Award. Prior to entering education, he was a professional journalist at several newspapers, including the Gazette-Journal in Reno, Nevada.

One Comment

  1. AvatarAllison Yeager Reply

    I’m disappointed that this article only included a scare statistic about the chance of neonatal death in a home birth. What about the chances of a complication free birth at home as opposed to a hospital? The US has the second highest rates in the world of maternal and infant death and almost 99% of births here are in hospitals. In countries like Sweden and Finland, the rates are the lowest in the world. Why? Because most mothers have complication-free out-of-hospital births.

    Not a very well balanced article…you should have included a quote from a midwife.

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