The Daily Beast, homebirth, and false journalistic “balance”

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Imagine if you read the following in a major mainstream publication:

Take, for instance, the two studies on earth geology that came out this week.

The first, from The Young Earth Society confirmed “there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is only 6,000 years old.”

The next came in the form of an abstract in the journal Nature. Researchers reported the discovery of ancient rocks dating to more than a billion years ago, more than 100X older than The Young Earth Society claimed could exist.

Could both be true?

In a word: NO!

How would we determine which was true? We would READ THEM, analyze them and determine if the claims made by the authors could be justified by the data presented in the paper. It would be inappropriate for a mainstream media reporter to simply throw up her hands and pretend that both papers are equally valid.

Yet that’s just what Brandy Zadrozny did, writing about homebirth in The Daily Beast:

Take, for instance, the two studies on home birth that came out this week.

The first, from the Midwives Alliance of North America(MANA) confirmed “the safety and overwhelmingly positive health benefits for low-risk mothers and babies who choose to birth at home with a midwife.”

The next came in the form of an abstract from researchers at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Doctors there reported that babies born at home to midwives have four times the risk of neonatal deaths than those delivered in the hospital by midwives. The risk jumps sevenfold for a first-time mother and tenfold in pregnancies over 41 weeks in duration.

Could both be true?

NO, both cannot be true and presenting them as if both could be true is known as false journalistic balance.

According to Wikipedia:

False balance, also referred to as false equivalence, is a real or perceived media bias, where journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence actually supports…

That’s certainly what’s happening in The Daily Beast article, as the reporter might have learned had she bothered to actually read the papers in question.

Had Zadrozny read the paper from the Midwives Alliance of North America, she would have found that the midwives’ own data shows that homebirth increases the risk of perinatal death by an astronomical 450%.

Homebirth midwives reported a death rate of 2.06/1000, while the CDC death rate for term pregnancies in low risk white women during the same time period was 0.38. The midwives’ own data shows that homebirth has a 5.5X higher risk of death.

The Grunebaum study mentioned by Zadrozny found that homebirth increases the risk of death by a factor of 4.2, fairly close. The data in both papers actually agrees and the crucial difference between the papers is that Melissa Cheyney and her co-authors LIED about what their own data showed.

Zadrozny rewards Cheyney and colleagues for lying by doing precisely what MANA hoped reporters would do: read the press releases and ignore the actual scientific papers.

The reality, though, is that BOTH papers show that homebirth increases the risk of death.

Zadrozny helpfully demonstrates what is wrong with science journalism in 2014. Reporters simply read and republish press releases, not the actual scientific papers. As such, they have been the tools of unscrupulous researchers like Cheyney and the executives of MANA.

Zadrozny probably thinks she has performed a journalistic service, but instead she was used to disseminate propaganda … and the worst part about it is she doesn’t appear to have a clue.

  • http://www.friv2.org/Flappy_Bird.html flappy bird

    I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought out and
    really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down
    so well.

  • Baffled

    After lumping CNMs and CPMs in the same category in some of your other posts, I think you need to re-read the title of this post and consider how you have done the same with your own version of false journalism and imbalance. Might it be more advantageous for you to rather than only pointing out some of the mistakes of journalists and talking about the mortality rates of home birth, to actually use the training and education you have and help the midwives in this country become better at what they do and lower these numbers? Or try and institute change at the state level to no longer allow some states to basically give out CPMs? I am skeptical about you Dr. Amy. One thing homebirth definitely does a better job of than hospitals is the position a woman is in during birth! As an OB have you ever considered that? Maybe adjusting the position a woman gives birth in, like squatting, might reduce the use of epidurals and cytotec and pitocin??

    • KarenJJ

      “Maybe adjusting the position a woman gives birth in, like squatting, might reduce the use of epidurals and cytotec and pitocin??”

      Wow. You are the expert. You should definitely tell all those obgyns that one.

    • Trixie

      Of course she’s trying to spur change to state CPM laws. That’s why she’s been, for a long time, one of the only voices (and certainly the voice that generates the most web traffic) on this issue.

      Hospitals let a woman give birth in any position she’s comfortable in. I’m not really sure what your point is.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      Wow, have you ever talked to an OB? Or better yet listened to one? I have had 2 beautiful natural births in a hospital and the only difference between that environment and home was that it was cleaner and there were trained doctors in case of emergency. Oh, and i got meals brought to my bedside, clean linens everyday, and expert lactation support.

      Someone should make a Business of Homebirth Midwives because guess what, they are out to make money too.

      (Formerly LynnetteHafkenIBCLC)

      • Trixie

        I will say though, the hospital food was terrible. I instituted an “if you want to see the baby, you’re bringing me takeout” rule.

    • Durango

      The CPMs don’t want to become better at what they do, that’s the point. They think they are already good. They reframe every complication as a variation as normal. They wait and wait and wait to transfer because they wrongfully believe interference causes problems, meanwhile babies suffer.

      Did you ever stop to consider that OBs have looked at positioning in labor and that it is hardly a quickie one-step panacea?

    • Amazed

      Do you often teach cardiac surgeons about the newest surgical technique you read about in Nature? If not, what makes you think you are qualified enough to teach an ob about various positions through delivery?

      Alas, I’ll have to go with my gut (that’s what you NCBers all cheer for, right? Kudos to me.). And my gut is telling me that yes, you will happily teach a cardiac surgeon how to do their job.

    • Captain Obvious

      I don’t really see how squatting will decrease the use of cytotec or pitocin. And hospitals now use the labor bar, towel tug-o-war, birthing bar, as well as on all fours. If a woman wants an epidural, should we refuse it to her? A study came out last year, and I think LMS1953 linked to it, that side lying with top or bottom knee up, or all fours did not show any increase in resolution of OP position than just lying in semi-fowlers. That is evidenced based medicine.

  • LMS1953

    How Did We Get Here as a Species?

    Well, it started more than 800,000 years ago. Footprints of a man and several children were found on a beach in England. Where was mom? She undoubtedly died in childbirth.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/natural-history-museum-project-earliest-3120774

    Researchers say the footprints belong to a group of five different people, possible one adult male and some children.

    The male footprint would roughly fit an adult size 8 shoe, indicating a man around 5ft 7 tall.

    • deafgimp

      You can’t possibly make that assumption from the available data. Maybe mom was just not with the family at that time, which is equally valid of an assumption

      • Trixie

        Yeah, that’s like when they concluded that Neanderthals weaned at 1 year from one tooth sample. Maybe that mom just died when the kid was a year old? We have no way of knowing the story about how that evidence got there.

      • AlisonCummins

        Look, he’s a guy. He knows these things. There is absolutely no way he’d let four kids go clam digging with him unless all the women were dead. There are no alternative narratives.

        • Elizabeth A

          I’m sure that if archeologists find any evidence of what DH is doing
          with the kids today some 800,000 years down the road, they’ll have no
          choice but to conclude that I’ve been dead for several years. Why else would such a big, strapping man have children with him? He’s tall enough to fight them off and send them back to Mom!

      • Elizabeth A

        No one, ever, before 1970 had a conversation that ran anything like “How about I take the kids to the beach today? We’ll dig some clams and bring them back for dinner.” That there could not possibly have occurred before feminism.

        • AlisonCummins

          They still don’t. Just ask LMS1053. He never had that conversation wrt his children and never will wrt any grandchildren. That’s what women are for.

          Therefore, that conversation has never taken place in any family and never will. Don’t you see?

          • Elizabeth A

            Bless my feathery head, you’re right! Must rush now – I dreamt I left the kids with their dad and the (male) nanny, but that can’t have happened, so they’re home all alone.

        • Young CC Prof

          Heck, maybe Mom WAS there. Maybe there were several other people there, a whole extended family, and they just didn’t step in the right spot to have their footprints preserved.

      • LMS1953

        The maternal mortality rate in Somalia is the highest in the world at 1,000/100,000 => 1/100. There were 4 mud-rats running around with Dad on the beach. That gave mom a 4% chance of having died in childbirth. Or perhaps she was off with Betty and Wilma getting her hair and nails done at the Sabertooth Salon.

        • LMS1953

          Then again, there was probably a 10% chance she was in the fields tending to crops of evening primrose and kale.

        • Elizabeth A

          You’re assuming that this was a nuclear family group, alone on the beach, and you have no data to support any of those assumptions. All you know is that, about 800,000 years ago, some people walked on a beach in England. One of them was an adult male, the rest were probably children. That’s it. Everything else is speculation.

          But for what your speculation is worth – prehistorically, outcomes for infants whose mothers died in childbirth were usually also quite bad. Dead mother often meant a dead baby, either at birth or shortly after. So those four children probably had a higher then 99% chance (each) of having a mother who survived their personal birth.

          Maybe those children did lose mothers in childbirth, but it’s just as possible that there was one or more mothers on scene, tending a fire somewhere above the tide line.

          • LMS1953

            I’m sorry. I’ve kind of played along with an inside joke that was just too inside. A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about “playing the [blank] card”. The dead baby card is the Ace of Spades. Another card played by the HB crowd is the “How did we ever survive as a species” card. This was a tongue in cheek play on that notion. It took 800,000 years of marginal survival to get to the 19th and 20th Centuries where modern technological and medical advances have made our numbers explode expotentially.

        • LMS1953

          BTW, the female genital mutilation rate in Somalia is 98% – the highest in the world. Is this correlation or causality? I would surmise that most of the deaths are from obstructed labors or bleeding to death from forcibly lacerating the “reverse episiotomy”. I bet they did not do that to the women 800,000 years ago and there was a lower maternal mortality rate in England circa 800,000 BC than in Somalia circa 2000 AD

  • LMS1953

    Q. Now that all kinds of health insurance must cover maternity care starting in 2014, will the plans also have to pay for midwives and deliveries in birthing centers?

    A. Midwives, probably. Birthing centers, maybe.

    Right now, “private insurance policies vary with regard to coverage of the services of a midwife,” says Damaris Hay, a media relations specialist with the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the major midwifery professional organization.

    That will change come 2014, because as of that date health plans may no longer discriminate against different types of health providers who are practicing in line with their professional licensing. What this means is that health plans will no longer be allowed to contract only with obstetricians to deliver maternity services. They’ll have to offer network participation to midwives on the same terms as doctors as long as they are appropriately licensed, which they are in every state. (Read more about midwives and other alternative providers in our new report, The Nurse Practitioner Will See You Now.)

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/07/will-obamacare-cover-midwives-and-birthing-centers/index.htm

    • AlisonCummins

      Which is not a problem if the licensing is meaningful, right?
      So the problem is with licensing.

      • LMS1953

        There has not been a scintilla of tort reform in the ACA. Do you think that bodes well for the In-Hospital crowd versus the HBers?

    • An Actual Attorney

      You know that CR is (a) not a source of legal analysis; and (b) nutty over the birth woo (which is a separate problem.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        Yes, that piece is written from the point of view that birth center births is a good thing, even though the question is neutral.

        • KAndrews

          Your name cracks me up. Just wanted to say thanks. I need a laugh when I am reading about midwifery.

      • LMS1953

        I wasn’t using it for that. I haven’t had the time to read all 2,200 pages of the ACA plus the other 20,000 pages of regulation interpretation. This was the product of a Google Search for CPM and the ACA. There are very sparse hits actually. The general tone is that the ACA would like for all of the states to be like Oregon and Vermont. However, there are a variety of state laws from the very progressive to the very conservative. Hence it will require POLITICAL PRESSURE AND LOBBYING to reduce the hideous toll of death of babies at home birth.

        • An Actual Attorney

          Yes, you were. Figuring out what a law says IS legal analysis. So, find the law that you claim does what you claim it does. This is what lawyers do every day. For the entire American code.

          Oh, a profession you haven’t trained in is hard? You don’t know how to do it? Hmmmm, where have I heard that before?

    • KAndrews

      If it is covered by insurance we will start to see some real data, some real interest on the subject from people in authority and some GD malpractice insurance.

      • Young CC Prof

        Oh my yes. If you thought Romm vs Tuteur was interesting, wait until an insurance company’s actuaries get a hold of some home birth data. It won’t be pretty.

        • KAndrews

          Even if an insurance company was incline to disregard the death of newborns, you have an increased risk of life time disability from oxygen deprivation. Than you are looking at Millions of Dollars in life long care. The financial risks are high.

          • Young CC Prof

            Even if things turn out OK, how do you think the costs of an urgent/emergency transfer compare to the average price of a hospital birth? And as for avoidable perinatal death, how much was spent on pregnancy care up to that point?

      • AlisonCummins

        Yes!

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Aviva Romm has agreed to join me in asking an independent statistician to analyze the two papers. If anyone has suggestions for who we should consult, please email me at dramy5 at aol dot com.

    • LMS1953

      It would be best to get two. If they agree, it would confirm the science of statistics. If they disagree, well, stats are just a flim-flam. If Aviva loses, she will claim bias.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Analyze what?

    • auntbea

      Try Andrew Gelman – statistician with a relatively high public profile (for a statistician) and a very low threshold for statistical chicanery. Although, this analysis may be too simple for him.

    • Elizabeth A

      I have no statistician to suggest, but I am dying to see that analysis.

      • KarenJJ

        Me too.

    • nomorequestionscatherine

      I think YoungCCProf is a statistician or something similar. She may have recommendations or advice if you can contact her in some way.

      • Young CC Prof

        I’m thinking about it. The only statisticians I personally know are community college teachers, but…

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I still want to know, analyze what to determine what?

          “Analyze the statistics” is pretty much a meaningless concept, unless you want to know what you are trying to figure out.

          • Young CC Prof

            I assume the task would be:

            Critique the statistical analysis in the Weill paper, since it contains some. What are the weaknesses, do the data support the conclusion?

            For the MANA paper, there is no statistical analysis on the safety question. (I assume that’s because they know what the answers are, not because no one in MANA could do the analysis or find someone who could.) However, there are statements that can be supported (or not) with statistical analysis, including:

            - That 5 deaths out of 222 breech births is too small a number to draw meaningful conclusions.

            - That the death rate they found is similar to the death rate found in comparable populations delivering in the hospital.

            Of course, both tasks require not just being able to calculate a binomial probability in Excel, which my freshmen can do, but passing judgement on the reliability of different data sources, and knowing enough about obstetrics and infant health to determine what constitutes a comparable risk population.

    • theadequatemother

      It’s categorical data right? Can’t we use a chi square test? You can do that in excel. I guess I know what I’m doing after kiddos one and two are snoozing tonight. Although to be frank I’ve taken a total of one intermediate stats course at the graduate level and I’m hardly independent.

  • Trixie

    I apologize if this has already been posted — new steaming turd over on the MANA blog. http://www.mana.org/blog/25/home-birth-research-q-a

    • theNormalDistribution

      How could the findings of this research be so different from findings that suggest home birth has a greater risk than hospital births?
      Those studies primarily rely on Vital Statistics data. For a helpful fact sheet on how to assess the quality of articles based on medical records – the “gold standard” for research and the basis of MANA Stats – against those based on Vital Statistics, see this in-depth look at Citizens for Midwifery.

      Oh really?

      • Young CC Prof

        Oh, didn’t you know? Data based on 20-30% of medical records (records which are, in many cases, compiled by a single independent practitioner and not confirmed by anyone else) are more reliable than records based on every birth certificate filed.

        Definitely.

        • Jessica S.

          The sheer and obvious stupidity – it’s hard to make up! (The stories about the stupidity, not the stupid stories. Those are apparently quite easy to make up.)

          • KarenJJ

            I don’t know that they are particularly stupid but are instead hopeful that other women are.

          • Jessica S.

            True, maybe opportunistic is a better term. :)

      • KarenJJ

        Reminds me a the Asterix cartoons and Vital Statistix.

    • LMS1953

      Trixie, great link! Perhaps our resident mathematician CC could analyze this approach – what would be the magnitude of data that would need to be “corrected” in order to substantiate MANA’s claims? Then, would that magnitude be at all feasible to consider as within the bounds of reason?

    • Elizabeth A

      I love the list of “unbiased” sources at the end. Hint: If you are looking for unbiased analysis of midwifery stats, a group called “Citizens for Midwifery” is probably not going to provide it.

  • hurricanewarningdc

    It’s the Daily Beast. Shoddy journalism is its hallmark.

  • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

    I get that there’s a deep desire to want to believe that NCB has truth to it – it’s very romantic in how it paints the picture of birth – but it’s Disney – and there’s a time and place for fairy tales and the delivery room isn’t it.

    • Lizzie Dee

      I’d agree with that. In my view, though, not so much Disney as Mills and Boon, or the cheap, synthetic, sentimental syrup of a poor taste Valentine’s card. Grown women will put themselves through pain and risk for such a choreographed, fake “experience”?

      My view (secretly) is that the whole thing actually has more in common with epic. However your baby comes out, the tumultuous and life changing experience of having a CHILD is really something. Considering it spoiled because you deviated from the romance of it is weird.

  • Captain Obvious

    I see she praises Aviva, but criticizes Dr Amy and her incindiary blog? Her “piece” reeks of bias. Not to mention her poor research skills (doesn’t appear she studied MANA’s results other than their press release), and her poor math skills with decimals and percents.

    • Jessica S.

      Yeah, I noticed that too!

  • LMS1953

    Snark alert: MWs contend that birth certificate data is unreliable. As regards Hawaii circa 1960, I would have to agree with them.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      You can’t be serious?

      • AlisonCummins

        He’s made it clear that he thinks racism and sexism are funny.

        • An Actual Attorney

          He mentioned his daughter has a degree in Women’s Studies. I think watching Thanksgiving at their house would be funny.

          • AlisonCummins

            Can you imagine growing up with a man who ground you down like that at every opportunity? She needed that degree.

          • http://whatismyreferer.com/ MikoT

            That’s not quite fair, although I agreed with you up to this point.
            It suggests to me that he gave her the freedom to become her own person, and still bankrolled her studies despite disagreeing with her choices.
            It’s commendable, regardless of his batshit crazy political views.

      • Irène Delse

        Worse, LMS seems to think it’s clever.

      • LMS1953

        I am very serious. Look, the HB crowd plays the “there you go playing the dead baby card again”. It doesn’t matter if there really are DEAD BABIES. What is most important is furtherance the ideology. So they think they don’t need to be rational or prove anything. It suffices just to make an EMPHATIC ACCUSATION/DENUNCIATION. Likewise, I can’t engage y’all with any rational discussion about Obama because all y’all think you need to do is play the TIN FOIL HAT BIRTHER CARD to deflect “Hey, POTUS, why did you seal all your college records? Maybe because you checked off Kenya as place of birth?” ANY criticism or mention of his list of hideous scandals will meet the RACISM card. Politically y’all are infested with the same woo as the HBers

        • AlisonCummins

          1) There really are dead babies.
          2) You have even less evidence for your TIN FOIL HAT BIRTHER belief that your president was not born in the US than certain NCBers have for their belief that hatting causes PPH.
          3) If you actually do have evidence, please take it to the Washington Post.

          • Ennis Demeter

            He’d have to also prove Obamas mother wasn’t a US citizen for Obama not to be a natural born citizen. This conspiracy to make a newborn baby into president goes back further than you think!

          • Trixie

            It goes all the way back to his Irish ancestors.

          • Mishimoo

            Irish…or Reptilian? *ominous music*

          • auntbea

            I believe the most recent ancestor the president and I (and half of the US, but who’s counting) have in common is Henry the 6th.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I am very serious.

          So you are a moron.

        • auntbea

          I don’t even understand this. It’s like a wall of random capitalization.

        • MaineJen

          …born in Kenya…hideous scandals…backing away slowly

    • MaineJen

      Which part of the president’s birth certificate is unreliable, exactly?

      • auntbea

        As far as I can tell, it’s the part that allows a black person to be president.

        • theNormalDistribution

          BAH!

        • LMS1953

          I would vote for Dr Ben Carson in a heartbeat. So please, get off your high horse and go corral your unicorns.

          • KarenJJ

            You’re the one that started spouting unicorns. And politics.

        • Carolina

          I think you nailed it. Quite a few of this guy’s posts have been really racist.

        • Ennis Demeter

          Especially because even if he had been born outside of the US, he would still be a natural born citizen by virtue of his mother’s citizenship, like John McCain was by virtue of his parents ‘ citizenship despite being born in Panama.

          • auntbea

            That’s actually not an entirely apt comparison, because a) there was also controversy over McCain’s citizenship and b) McCain was born on a military base, which many would consider a part of US territory. To the extent that he is a natural born citizen, it is not the citizenship of his parents that matters. The difference between the two is that no one was contesting the validity of McCain’s official documents, and insisting that even though his documents say be he was born on a base, he was actually born in a hut in the bush somewhere.

        • Certified Hamster Midwife

          I read many things into LMS’s posts, but not racism.

          • auntbea

            I don’t know anything about lms personally. However it IS true that people who belive Obama was born outside of the US generally score disproportionately high on racial resentment scales. In other words, the birther movement is made up of people who don’t like black people.

    • Guesteleh

      There’s plenty to criticize Obama for, starting with the NSA, but when you wank about his birth certificate you’ve gone straight into flat earth territory.

      Also, this is not a political blog and your constant Freeper intrusions are fucking annoying. Unless it has something to do with childbirth or women’s health, keep it to yourself.

    • Trixie

      Why does every post turn into a Mark Levin talking point with you? Seriously, try turning off the talk radio once in a while. It’s getting fucking annoying. Find another blog to whine about your pet political conspiracy theories.

      • LMS1953

        Trixie, have you noticed what Obamacare is doing to the country. And please don’t use the “f-word”

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Damn people, going to the doctor…

          If your “effect of Obamacare” is half as stupid as your birth certificate idiocy, then I think we pretty good.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/life-after-jan-1-kentucky-clinic-offers-early-glimpse-at-realities-of-health-care-law/2014/02/01/a25c506a-8ad1-11e3-916e-e01534b1e132_story.html

          • Guesteleh

            Good article, thanks for the link.

        • Trixie

          I’m sorry your tender ears can’t handle swearing. I’ll try to be more gentle next time.

          • auntbea

            Trixie, ladies don’t fuck. They just lie back and sweetly acquiesce to their husband’s every demand.

          • AlisonCummins

            They don’t think either. They let the sensible, rational men do that for them.

          • LMS1953

            And I’m sorry your tender liberal sensibilities couldn’t handle a “f-word-ing” joke.

          • Trixie

            1) you don’t have any idea what my political sensibilities are. 2) I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      LMS, the homebirth data is very important. Please don’t derail the discussion with your politics.

      • LMS1953

        The homebirth data (hopefully) will be used in a POLITICAL SENSE to persuade the Oregon and Vermont state legislatures to rescind their licensure of CNMs and the mandate of their reimbursement. I also have the sneaking suspicion that somewhere in the unread bowels of the Affordable Care Act are policies that will ENCOURAGE the use of CNMs and homebirth.

        • Trixie

          Even if you’re correct, that has exactly nothing to do with your thoroughly discredited and irrelevant birther conspiracies.

        • Guesteleh

          Just because you haven’t read them doesn’t mean they’re unread. After all, I could say that I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere in the Affordable Care Act are policies requiring all citizens to get unicorn tattoos, and it would be pulled out of the same region of my ass that you seem to have your hand in on a regular basis.

  • LMS1953

    These reports free women from having to associate the outcome of their births with the process of their births (to paraphrase Pelosi).

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    A press release touting a study on homebirth by MacDorman and Declercq:

    http://www.midwife.org/ACNM/files/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000003414/Press%20Release_JMWH_OOHTrends_FINAL.pdf

    They used the birth certificates, the same data they they now criticize as unsuitable for research.

    “Analyzing national birth certificate data from 2004 to 2010, the report authors Marian MacDorman, PhD, Eugene Declercq, PhD, and T.J. Mathews, MS, found a 41% increase in the proportion of home births and a 43% increase in birth center births, with 10% of the home birth rise and 14% of the birth center rise occurring within the last year.”

    Ironic, no?

    • Mel

      I’m sure birth certificate data is perfectly acceptable when you read them holistically – which means “ignoring bits you don’t like” in NCB.

  • Young CC Prof

    “The most recent Weill Cornell study found the risk of neonatal mortality
    to be about 1.2 per 1,000 births. That means that the chance women are
    taking, according to the study, comes out to about 0.001 percent”

    1.2 per 1000 is 0.12%. Basic percents and decimals, please be learning it.

    • MaineJen

      Seriously? Tell me this person is not supposed to be a science reporter.

      Also…1.2 per 1000 sounds like a LOT to me. That sounds really alarming. 2.06 per 1000 sounds even more alarming! How in the world are they calling that ‘safe?’

      • Young CC Prof

        Yup, this science reporter doesn’t know the difference between a decimal and a percent.

        • Mel

          That makes me want to cry.

        • KarenJJ

          Oh dear. No wonder people are so easily misled by homebirth advocates..

    • LMS1953

      She was trying to play the “absolute risk” card to counter the “dead baby” card. Epic fail.

      • Young CC Prof

        Massively deceptive, actually. 0.001% is 1 in 100,000, which is approximately the risk of dying in a car accident in any given MONTH, which is a risk that most of us comfortably disregard. 1 in 1,000 is quite a bit more serious.

        • LMS1953

          Each year in the US there are about 4 million deliveries. There used to be about 400 to 500 maternal deaths per year. It might have bumped up a tad when the definition of maternal death expanded. The point is, the MATERNAL DEATH RATE IS ABOUT 10/100,000 => 1/10,000. The perinatal/neonatal rate is around 1/1000.

  • Mel

    I wish the first example – “Young Earthers vs Geology” was imaginary. Scientists and educators have been dealing with this kind of sloppy, slapdash reporting on inserting Biblical literalism into science classes for decades in the US.

    As a secondary school Biology teacher, I am very sick of having to explain to certain members of US society that choosing to read the Bible literally is a matter of religion, not science and that I really can’t in good conscience or legally ‘teach both sides’ in a science class. (Side note: I can’t teach it with a straight face either. Doubly so since I went to a Catholic HS and college where we were taught that the Bible is many interesting and wonderful things, but not a literal document for science or history. AND evolution is really nifty)

    • Something From Nothing

      Indeed. The issue is that NCB is religion. It’s tenets are based on a set of fixed beliefs, without supporting evidence and cannot be easily altered with rational discussion and evidence. This really helps me in my dealings with midwives. It stops me from banging my head against a concrete wall.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    The data in both papers actually agrees

    This is something I noted the other day. In fact, the two “studies” find pretty much the same thing. The difference in is in how they were interpreted.

    • auntbea

      Right. I wonder how much of this is an inability to read scientific papers and more a result of a naive reporter not even considering that a peer-reviewed publication would outright lie in its abstract.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Abstract? The reporter read the friggin press release.

      • fiftyfifty1

        What are you considering peer reviewed? Certainly not the MANA report?

        • auntbea

          Isn’t the journal they published in peer-reviewed? Isn’t that part of why the article is totally important and also true?

      • http://whatismyreferer.com/ MikoT

        Oh she’s not naive, at least not in the sense that you mean.
        I’m willing to bet that Brandy Zadrozny has been active in these circles long before this article was written.
        It’s calculated propaganda disguised as objective reporting.

        • NoLongerCrunching

          I would not be at all surprised if the Old Girls’ Network got together and asked each other “who do we know who will write an article supporting us”?

  • Rebecca

    Oh, I’m pretty sure she has a clue she’s spreading propaganda. “Grunebaum also retweets former OB-GYN Amy Tuteur, the most demagogic of home-birth critics, whose website serves as an echo chamber for the anti-home-birth crowd complete with horror stories of home births gone wrong.” Once again, it’s all about how mean and scary Dr. Amy is.

    • Young CC Prof

      Because obviously the real problem with homebirth disasters is that mean, cold people talk about them on the Internet. Not that they happened, or that they were preventable.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I just want to reiterate something:

      Dr Amy’s position that she promotes here is pretty much the mainstream position of the ACOG and the medical community.

      We aren’t talking about someone with extreme views. She is just the one who pushes it.

    • LMS1953

      What if we were called the “pro-livebirth crowd”? The same rationale as with all the pro/anti permutations in the abortion argument.

      • LMS1953

        HB plays the “women’s autonomy” card => Given that the ethical basis of pregnancy termination is based on absolute autonomy of a woman’s right to control her body, how dare we interfere with her right to balance the absolute risk of perinatal/neonatal death with the narcissistic pleasure of birth as performance art.

        • AlisonCummins

          Well, we don’t. As long as the baby is unborn it is a fetus and the mother is the primary patient. She is allowed to let it die or to be born oxygen-deprived. We might not like it, but it’s her body.

          What we wish to interfere with is unqualified people calling themselves midwives and lying about the risks.

          • auntbea

            Or assuming that just because they have the *right* to choose themselves over their fetus means that most women would or should prefer to do so, and therefore it is unnecessary to be honest about the risks to the baby. I think the majority of women, no matter how strongly they advocate for women’s bodily autonomy, would prefer their baby alive and unharmed.

        • Siri

          I don’t think anyone here has any desire to remove a woman’s (or, indeed, anyone’s) autonomy, or to ‘interfere’ with anyone’s rights. Do you think abortion should not be legal, or that women should be prevented from giving birth where they wish?

  • Durango

    You’re being too kind to the Daily Beast. To continue your analogy, your parody article above would gush about how great the Young Earthers are, how appealing their numbers are, what a demagogue a certain geologist is, etc. Complete garbage. It’s not false balance, it’s just false–giving more weight to the wrong. Arg.

    • auntbea

      You need to open your mind and stop being so judgmental toward Young Earthers! Science doesn’t know everything and neither do you!

      • Young CC Prof

        I always love the “doesn’t know everything” gambit. Science doesn’t know everything, therefore science doesn’t know anything and whatever nonsense I pulled out of my ass that directly contradicts mountains of research could be true.

        • KarenJJ

          The taxation office doesn’t know everything about what I earn and therefore I can just make up my numbers every year.

    • http://whatismyreferer.com/ MikoT

      Exactly.
      This is not false balance so much as someone with a barrow to push feigning objectivity and professionalism.