Out-of-hospital births, U.S., 1978: birth weight and Apgar scores as measures of outcome.
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Out-of-hospital births, U.S., 1978: birth weight and Apgar scores as measures of outcome.

  • 1984 Jan-Feb

  • Source: Public Health Rep. 99(1):63-73
Filetype[PDF-2.42 MB]

  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
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      An examination of 1978 natality data for the United States disclosed that low birth weight was less common among 30,819 infants born out of hospital than among 3,294,101 infants born in hospital in that year. When controls were applied for birth attendant, infants' race, and mothers' education, age, nativity, and parity, the data revealed that white, well-educated women between 25 and 39 years of age, who were having their second babies and were attended by midwives out of hospital, were at least risk of bearing low birth weight infants. The incidence rate of low birth weight babies was lower for midwife-attended births in every category examined. For college-educated white women, for example, the incidence rate was 2.0 percent among those attended by midwives, 4.6 percent among those giving birth in hospital, and 3.6 percent among those whose out-of-hospital deliveries were attended by physicians. Apgar scores for babies born both in and out of hospital were also studied but, because of inconsistent reporting, were given less attention. Excellent (9-10) Apgar scores were more common among babies born out of hospital than among those born in hospital (63 percent compared with 49 percent), particularly for out-of-hospital births attended by physicians. At least with respect to birth weight and Apgar scores, the claim that out-of-hospital births are inherently more dangerous than hospital births receives no support from these data. The findings also suggest the need for further refinement of vital statistics categories to permit the analysis of distinctions between births attended by certified nurse-midwives and those attended by lay midwives, as well as differences between births at home and those in alternative birth centers.
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