The horrifying death toll of homebirth in Colorado

You might expect that such appalling news would be front and center in the latest newsletter of the Colorado Midwives Association, the organization of Colorado homebirth midwives, but you’d be wrong. It doesn’t appear until the second page in the President’s Letter by Karen Robinson, CPM.

You might expect that the extraordinary news would lead her letter, but no, the beginning of the letter is devoted to the higher registration fees. Instead the news is relegated to the 7th paragraph:

In looking back over the past couple years of statistics, I see that there were 5 perinatal deaths reported each year for 2006 and 2007. This represents a perinatal death rate of 8 per 1000 for those two years, and that is too high for the low-risk population we serve. The state perinatal mortality rate for all births from 2003 to 2007 was 6.4 per 1000.

In other words, the perinatal death rate of LICENSED homebirth midwives in Colorado, caring for low risk patients, exceeded the perinatal death rate of 6.4/1000 for the entire state (all races, all gestational ages, all birth weights, 2003-2007)! Homebirth was the most dangerous form of planned birth by far.

Ms. Robinson continues:

I don’t believe we have a poor perinatal mortality rate, but if solid data shows we do, then I will be at the forefront of the effort to improve our practices and lower the perinatal mortality rate for homebirth in Colorado.

If she’s going to be at the forefront, then she had better get out there. The just published statistics for the year 2008 are even worse. Last year, licensed Colorado midwives had a perinatal mortality rate at homebirth of 8.6/1000. These numbers are nothing short of horrifying.

Consider:

Curiously, these statistics are not mentioned on the website of the Colorado Midwifery Association. The state is aware that perinatal data rate for homebirth is extraordinarily high. The midwives themselves are aware that the perinatal mortality rate for homebirth is extraordinarily high. The only people who haven’t been informed, it seems, are the patients.

How can a woman in Colorado make an informed decision about homebirth with a licensed midwife if she has no idea that the homebirth death rate exceeds not only that for low risk births, but exceeds the rate that includes high risk births as well?

Raw statistics can be found here for 2006, 2007, and 2008.

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