Melissa Cheyney spews more BS to justify hiding MANA death rates


Kudos to the more than 400 people who have signed the online petition demanding that the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) release the death rates for the 27,000+ homebirths in their database. It has been swiftly and remarkably successful.

I created the petition on October 1.

On October 4 MANA began censoring comments on their blog after refusing to reveal the death rates.

Also on October 4th, after learning that both Melissa Cheyney CPM and Wendy Gordon CPM (and placenta encapsulation specialist!) were feeling pressured by my “attacks,” I offered this challenge:

Stop lying! Stop hiding! Stop trying to bury dead babies twice, once in the ground and the second time in our collective memories.

How dare you two lie to American women by omission or commission? I never had any doubt that you aren’t healthcare providers; I’ve always known you are lay people trying to get paid while you get your birth junkie fix, but really??!! Have you no decency at all?

Release the MANA death rates. Stop lying about existing research. Start acting like the healthcare providers you claim to be and not a bunch of selfish, self-absorbed women who casually step over the tiny bodies of babies who didn’t have to die on your way to picking up a check.

On October 24, ahead of the MANA13 national conference taking place this weekend, Cheyney felt compelled to spew more BS in an effort to justify the fact that MANA has been hiding their death rates for nearly 5 years.

They say that when you can’t dazzle them with brilliance you can always baffle them with bullshit and apparently that’s Cheyney’s motto, too. Cheyney employs a lot of words to tell us nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. She can’t resist yet another whopper.

Cheyney claims that the MANA statistics cannot be released without the approval of an IRB (institutional review board).

The code of federal regulations # 21 part 56 requires it, and researchers cannot submit findings for publication unless they have gone through appropriate procedures to access data. You must have IRB clearance before you analyze data for publication.

First, MANA itself has published almost all the data from the database EXCEPT the death rates.

Second, while IRB approval could be required for publications based on the data, IRB approval is not required to read and review the data.

Finally, Federal regulations #21 part 56 concerns studies leading to FDA approval of drugs or devices and has nothing to do with the MANA data.

Cheyney also has this revelation for us:

I’m excited to report that a group of researchers and I have two papers on the MANA Stats 2.0 dataset coming out in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health…

M: This article looks at the demographics of the MANA Stats data set 2004-2009, including the intended place of birth and the type of midwife in attendance …

It also looks at standard maternal-child health outcomes and home birth indicators, like transfer rates, i.e. intrapartum transfer, neonatal transfer, maternal postpartum transfer, and it looks at reasons for those transfers. It also examines cesarean section rates and spontaneous vaginal birth rates. It also examines intrapartum, early neonatal, and late neonatal mortality. Finally, it explores rates and type of tearing, hemorrhage, and NICU admissions.

That’s funny. As recently as September 29, Wendy Gordon claimed that there were no articles in press, and now there are suddenly two that will be published in less than two months?

So nearly 5 years after the data was analyzed, MANA has decided to publish it. Johnson and Daviss took 5 years to figure out how to spin the CPM death rate in the 2005 BMJ homebirth study. They finally decided to compare homebirth in 2000 to hospital birth in a bunch of out of date papers extending back to 1969. That’s how they concealed the fact that homebirth had a death rate nearly triple that of low risk hospital birth in the same year.

I expect a similar attempts from Cheyney at burying the deaths of homebirth babies. She should report how many homebirth babies died compared to how many homebirths were intended. What might she do instead?

Here are just a few possibilities:

Compare homebirth to high risk hospital birth including premature babies

Exclude breech, twins, VBAC and postdates from the homebirth deaths as “high risk” even though Cheyney has spent years trying to convince the state of Oregon that they’re not

Follow the lead of Colorado homebirth midwives are report the result in an incomprehensible way like deaths per midwife

Take a page from Oregon homebirth midwives and obfuscate the data by adding in all prenatal stillbirths thereby dramatically diminishing the impact of homebirth deaths.

I’m sure that Cheyney will do something to hide the hideous death rate at CPM attended homebirth. I’m so sure, in fact, that if I’m wrong, I will publicly apologize to Cheyney and donate $100 to the MANA stats project.

It’s a win-win for me. If I’m wrong, and Cheyney publishes the number of homebirth deaths compared to the total number of attempted homebirths, I’ll finally have access to the data. If I’m right, I’ll save $100 and I’ll be able to say that you heard it here first that MANA would try to hide the many homebirth deaths at the hands of their members.

No matter what, though, we’ve already shown the power of a public petition. In less than one month, MANA has already been forced to release data to counteract the charge that they’ve been hiding their death rates for nearly 5 years. It’s a small, but real victory.

If you haven’t signed the online petition yet, please do so. We can’t let up the pressure on MANA to release the data that will allow women to make an informed decision about homebirth.