Babies die in the hospital, too?

At least several times a month, natural childbirth advocates parachute into this blog with the declaration:

“babies die in the hospital, too.”

Duh? That’s why we encourage hospital birth in the first place. Childbirth is inherently dangerous, babies die all the time in nature and hospitals save a vast proportion of those who would otherwise die. Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that MORE (a greater proportion of) babies die at homebirth, or that the most common reason babies die in the hospital is due to prematurity, to envisage why the claim is inane on it’s face.

Consider:

Non-smokers die of lung cancer, too. Does that mean that smoking is a safe?

Of course not. Smoking INCREASES the risk of lung cancer; it doesn’t kill everyone who smokes, and it kills people who don’t smoke. That doesn’t make smoking either a smart of a responsible choice.

Or:

People wearing a seatbelt die in car crashes, too. Does that make foregoing a seatbelt safe?

Of course not. Foregoing a seatbelt INCREASES the risk of dying in a car accident; not everyone who foregoes a seatbelt dies and some people wearing a seatbelt die anyway. That doesn’t make foregoing a seatbelt a smart or responsible choice.

Or:

People who aren’t drunk get into fatal car accidents. Does that mean that drunk driving is safe?

Of course not. Drunk driving INCREASES the risk of a fatal crash; not every drunk driver has a fatal accident and drivers have fatal accidents even if they are not drunk. That doesn’t make drunk driving a smart or responsibly choice.

Similarly:

Babies die in the hospital, too. Does that make homebirth safe?

Of course not. Homebirth INCREASES the risk of perinatal death; not every homebirth baby dies and babies born in the hospital die, too. That doesn’t make homebirth a smart or a responsible choice.

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