People have avoided homebirths even though they cost significantly less than births in hospitals or birthing centers due at least in part to fears about safety for baby and mother, according to researchers David Anderson, an economics professor at Kentucky's Center College and his sister, Rondi Anderson, a Pennsylvania certified nurse midwife with 20 years experience at homebirths.
These fears may not be realistic, they say. After comparing outcome and cost data from more than 33,000 deliveries between 1987 and 1991, they found homebirths to be a safe, low-cost alternative to the expense of hospital births. They published their findings in the "Journal of Nurse-Midwifery."
Anderson says the study shows that complication rates for all three delivery settings were very similar, while costs were markedly lower for homebirths. According to Anderson, the study included only routine deliveries in all three settings, so hospitals would not be penalized for treating the most complicated births.
The average cost for a homebirth was $1,711 in 1991. By contrast, the average cost for a birthing center delivery was $3,385, while the cost of being born at a hospital was $5,382, says Anderson.
Tony Cappasso AHN.COM News