So tell me again why MANA is hiding its own homebirth safety data

It’s funny watching homebirth advocates fall all over themselves looking for reasons not to accept the results of the Wax homebirth study that showed that homebirth triples the neonatal death rate.

Why is it so amusing?

1. First, virtually every homebirth advocate commenting on the study has not read it.

In case you needed proof that homebirth advocacy is “evidence resistant,” homebirth advocates charmingly demonstrate that they work backward from their chosen conclusion and don’t even feel it necessary to actually read what they are disagreeing with.

2. Homebirth advocates love the logical fallacy “argument from authority.”

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read, “I waiting for Henci Goer’s analysis” (translated: I’m waiting for Henci Goer to tell me what to think), I’d be a rich woman. Since Goer has not yet weighed in, homebirth advocates have had to make do with lesser lights like Dr. Michael Klein and Prof. Patricia Janssen. No reason to read the paper when someone you like has read it and “interpreted” it for you.

3. It’s a conspiracy theory

Homebirth advocates, like all devotees of “alternative” health love conspiracy theories. They never analyze anything on its own merits (very hard to do if you don’t bother to read the study in question and if you don’t understand science and statistics). Instead they immediately insist they are being persecuted for political and economic reasons.

Let’s put things in perspective here. There is absolutely NO DOUBT that homebirth triples the neonatal mortality rate in the US. That’s what all the existing studies show and that’s what the US national data show. Indeed, in some states like Colorado, homebirth is even more dangerous than that. Focusing on pretend conspiracies is much more satisfying for homebirth advocates than offering any alternative data, because there is no data that shows homebirth with a CPM to be safe.

4. Homebirth advocates did not whine and complain when Wax published his last paper about homebirth

The same people who are currently part of the giant “conspiracy” to defame homebirth were quite popular when they published their last paper that showed that homebirth in the US has a lower rate of interventions and certain complications like lacerations. Indeed, homebirth advocates publicized the results. So Wax and his colleagues were heroes when they published data favorable to homebirth, but now part of “conspiracy” to defame homebirth when they publish data that is unfavorable to homebirth.

5. The Wax study used older scientific papers in the meta-analysis.

I find this to be a weakness in the Wax study, but then I have always found the use of out of date studies to be a weakness. In constrast, homebirth advocates seemed to have no problem with the Johnson and Daviss BMJ 2005 study that rested on papers more than 30 years old. You can’t have it both ways. If the use of old papers renders the conclusions suspect in this study, they render the conclusions suspect in the Johnson and Daviss study.

6. But my personal favorite, one that homebirth advocates themselves seem to have forgotten is this. MANA refuses to publish the safety data that THEY COLLECTED.

That’s right. MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) the trade organization for direct entry midwives spent the years 2001-2008 collecting extensive data. In fact MANA collected the same data in 2000 and handed it over to Johnson and Daviss for the BMJ 2005 study. Over the years MANA repeatedly told its members that more extensive safety data was forthcoming, encompassing almost 20,000 CPM attended homebirths. And MANA has announced completion of the data collection and publicly offered the data to others.

So why haven’t you seen it? MANA will only reveal the data to those who can prove they will use it “for the benefit of midwifery” and even these “friends” of midwifery must sign a legal non-disclosure agreement providing penalties for those who reveal the data to anyone else. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that MANA’s own safety data shows that homebirth almost certainly increases the risk of neonatal death, possibly quite dramatically.

CPMs and homebirth advocates are condemning the publication of existing safety data from other studies while REFUSING to release their own safety data. There is nothing that more powerfully demonstrates homebirth advocates contempt for safety and contempt for the truth. The overwhelming priority is letting “birth junkies” pretend to be midwives and if the babies of trusting women die preventable deaths in the process, so be it.