International Expert Calls Study Deeply Flawed and Politically Motivated
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 7, 2010) – As New York and Massachusetts moved to pass pro-midwife bills in the final weeks of their legislative sessions, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology fast-tracked publicity surrounding the results of an anti-home birth study that is not scheduled for publication until September. Described as unscientific and politically motivated, the study draws conclusions about home birth that stand in direct contradiction to the large body of research establishing the safety of home birth for low-risk women whose babies are delivered by professional midwives.
“Many of the studies from which the author’s conclusions are drawn are poor quality, out-of-date, and based on discredited methodology. Garbage in, garbage out.” said Michael C. Klein, MD, a University of British Columbia emeritus professor and senior scientist at The Child and Family Research Institute. “The conclusion that this study somehow confirms an increased risk for home birth is pure fiction. In fact, the study is so deeply flawed that the only real conclusion to draw is that the motive behind its publication has more to do with politics than with science.”
Advocates working to expand access to out-of-hospital maternity care questioned the timing of AJOG’s public relations efforts on behalf of a study that won’t be published until next fall.
“Given the fact that New York just passed a bill providing autonomous practice for all licensed midwives working in all settings, while Massachusetts is poised to do the same, the timing of this study could not be better for the physician groups that have been fighting so hard to defeat pro-midwife bills there and in other states,” said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “Clearly the intent is to fuel fear-based myths about the safety of professional midwifery care in out-of-hospital settings. Their ultimate goal is obviously to defeat legislation that would both increase access to out-of-hospital maternity care for women and their families and increase competition for obstetricians.”
The United States recognizes two categories of midwives: Certified Nurse-Midwives, who are trained to practice in hospital settings and who also provide primary and well-woman care, and Certified Professional Midwives, who undergo specialized clinical training to provide maternity care in out-of-hospital settings. Research consistently shows that midwife outcomes in all settings are equivalent to those of physicians, but with far fewer costly and preventable interventions, including a significant reduction in pre-term and low birth weight births, and as much as a five-fold decrease in cesarean surgeries.